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Row over flood defence project cuts
A row has broken out over alleged budget cut-prompted cancellations of flood defence projects as swathes of Britain remain on alert following more heavy rain.
The Environment Agency (EA) defended the Government's investment in flood defences after the Guardian newspaper claimed nearly 300 such schemes had been left unbuilt.
The paper, which analysed EA documents, said 294 projects that had indicative funding in 2010 to begin work in the following two years have not received any money.
The finding comes after Government advisers warned earlier this week that a £1 billion funding gap was opening up between what is needed to keep properties protected in the face of climate change and what is being spent on flood defences over the next few years.
Charles Tucker, of the National Flood Forum, told the newspaper in response to its findings: "The fact is that spending has decreased while flooding has increased. Spending on flooding is clearly not enough."
But the EA said 364 new flood risk management schemes had been completed in the last three years.
And its chief executive Paul Leinster defended the Government's track record, saying: "There will always be more schemes proposed than funds available and no one can prevent flooding entirely."
The Midlands, East Anglia and Powys in Wales have borne the brunt of the latest bout of stormy weather.
There were 15 Environment Agency flood alerts in place on Saturday, from the River Teme in Worcestershire to the River Nene in Northamptonshire, and part of Cambridge.
Sunday, St Swithin's Day, should see a reprieve for most parts of the UK, according to Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association. But it may only be a short reprieve before another week of poor weather.