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Exeter in line for £26m flood relief cash from government

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 01, 2012

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Exeter could soon get Government cash to underwrite long-awaited £26 million flood defences for the city, ministers said yesterday.

The announcement, ahead of Chancellor George Osborne's autumn statement next week, came just days after both David Cameron and Environment Secretary Owen Patterson visited the Westcountry to witness chaos and damage wrought by storms and heavy rain.

The Government yesterday said a total of £120 million of new funding would be available for flood schemes across the country.

The Treasury identified the proposed Exeter flood alleviation scheme as one of four "potential projects" that could get money.

Devon County Council and Exeter City Council have between them committed £6 million to fund the defences, and yesterday's announcement raised expectations central government will stump up the rest.

Some 2,850 homes and 1,150 businesses will be protected by the scheme, seen as the Westcountry's priority flood defence project.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who was in flood-hit Buckfastleigh, South Devon, this week, said: "I met families and members of the Environment Agency and emergency services who have been incredibly brave and steadfast in testing times.

"I have also seen how flood defences can help protect people and property from being ravaged by flood water.

"So I am pleased that this additional £120 million will help fast-track defences for up to 60,000 more homes and unlock up to £1 billion of economic benefits."

This summer, Government climate advisers said flood defence spending is 12% below levels in the last spending review period. Devon and Cornwall witnessed a £4.4million cut this year alone.

Pete Edwards, leader of Labour-controlled Exeter City Council leader, said: "This is welcome news for Exeter. We are pleased that the government has recognised the threat that flooding has on the city, its residents and the economy and we now need to sit down and fully understand the impact of this offer."

Councillor John Hart, leader of Conservative-held Devon County Council, said: "The widespread flooding across Devon has demonstrated that vital investment is needed in our flood defences in the county more than ever.

"I am writing to George Osborne urging him to provide funding for flood-hit communities across the county."

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