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Delegates at the Liberal Democrat party conference have today voted to greatly increase spending on flood defences, in a riposte to Chancellor George Osborne's cuts to floods budget.
A Liberal Democrat policy motion passed this morning calls on the Government to "Ensure flood defence spending is kept in line with that needed to protect against climate change impacts". This would mean the Government investing an extra £500million to make up shortfalls under this Parliament, and billions more in future, following recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change and the Environment Agency.
The move is an implicit criticism of the huge cuts to flood defence spending made by Chancellor George Osborne since the Coalition took office. It comes after Britain endured widespread flooding during its wettest winter ever in 2013-14, during which the then Conservative Environment Secretary Owen Paterson came under fire for his handling of the crisis and his climate sceptic views.
Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Guy Shrubsole said:
"The Liberal Democrats have wisely learned lessons from our wettest ever winter - we need to invest far more to protect people from the impacts of climate change.
"With climate change threatening to put an extra million people at flood risk over the next decade, all parties should follow suit and pledge to plug the half-billion pound hole in our flood defence plans.
"The Liberal Democrat leadership now needs to enact this in government, and show they're just as serious about tackling the causes of climate change - by opposing fracking and plans for airport expansion."
Notes to editors:
1. Liberal Democrat Policy Motion F19 ('Adapting to Climate Change') was debated and passed this morning, Monday 6th October 2014, 9am-10.30am. The full text of the motion can be read here under the Programme for Monday:
2. The Committee on Climate Change has repeatedly advised the Government to increase spending on flood defences to keep pace with climate change, stating that there is now a £500million gap between what is currently being invested and what is needed (see This analysis is based on the Environment Agency's recommendations in its Long Term Investment Strategy (2009) which called for extra investment in flood defences of £20m per year, on top of inflation. This recommendation was ignored by the Chancellor George Osborne, who cut flood defence spending by £100m in his 2010 Spending Review.

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