General Election Manifestos: Flooding

All three of England’s main parties refer to flooding in their manifestos. Here’s what they say: 

The Conservative manifesto trades on the Government’s existing record, setting out that: 

Government investment has better protected over 600,000 properties from flooding and coastal erosion, and since 2015, has protected over 900,000 acres of farmland. In 2020, we announced a doubling of capital funding into flood defences in England to a record £5.6 billion over 2021-2027. We will maintain this record flooding funding to continue to protect homes, farms and businesses. 

Policy Connect’s view: The Government’s record investment in flood and coastal erosion risk management is welcome. However, the current capital programme is under pressure due to COVID, inflation, and skills shortages, and is anticipated to ‘better protect’ around 40% fewer properties than originally anticipated. Government funding for flood defences beyond 2027 should account for inflationary pressure within the construction sector and more accurately reflect the wider benefits that nature-based flood defences can play. 

The Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges to: 

Create and restore habitats like saltmarshes, mudflats and seagrass meadows to guard against coastal flooding and erosion and absorb carbon emissions. 

Support farmers properly in restoring woodland, peatland and waterways, creating new natural flood protections.

Properly fund local planning departments to improve planning outcomes and ensure housing is not built in areas of high flood risk without adequate mitigation, by allowing local authorities to set their own fees. 

Implement Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act to require sustainable drainage systems in new developments. 

Policy Connect’s view: The former points are vague and hard to accurately cost.  However, we consider that the latter two points will significantly reduce the risk of flooding in both new and existing communities. The Westminster Sustainable Business Forum has called for both of these policy changes within its recent Bricks and Water inquiry. 

The Labour manifesto acknowledged that: 

Without action, flooding and coastal erosion will pose greater risks to lives, livelihoods and people’s wellbeing. 

And pledged that: 

Labour will improve resilience and preparation across central government, local authorities, local communities, and emergency services. 

Policy Connect’s view:  Although the Labour manifesto contains several commitments to improve water quality, it is light on detail surrounding flooding.  It is disappointing to find that recent announcements from Labour on a taskforce and Minister for Flood Resilience, have not been included in the manifesto.  We hope that these pledges will be honoured. 

Robert Allen, Senior Policy and Research Manager