Speaking in a debate on flooding of the River Severn, Philip Dunne welcomes additional funding announced in the Budget and backs calls for a Severn Valley catchment-wide solution.
I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate, today of all days, when the Chancellor has just announced a doubling of flood defence expenditure over the next six years to £5.2 billion. He will have noticed that the Chancellor provided an additional £120 million to repair the flood defences already in place, which may help the constituencies of hon. Members whose flood defences were damaged in Ironbridge and Bewdley along the River Severn.
Most importantly, the Chancellor announced a £200-million contribution to place-based resilience schemes for local communities, in which the Severn valley catchment has an important part to play. I understand that £23 million of that £200 million is being allocated to the Severn valley to look at that catchment-wide solution. Areas such as Bridgnorth in my constituency, where water was pushed downstream from Shrewsbury and Ironbridge, and the river burst its banks, need some flood defences to prevent that happening again.
Order. This is an important subject, but if interventions could be slightly snappier, I would be grateful.
I always give a little extra to my right hon. Friend and neighbour, a fellow Salopian. I ask the Government to support, politically and economically, the development of a River Severn strategy, similar to that already in place for the Humber estuary and River Thames, with a remit to look at water management, flood risk, sustainable growth and climate resilience.
I want to give the Minister as much time as possible to respond. I repeat that the River Severn is 220 miles long. It is the longest river in the United Kingdom. The River Severn basin has an area of almost 4,500 square miles that spans the English-Welsh border and runs across the west midlands before entering the sea at the Bristol channel. About 117,000 households, and more than 10,000 businesses, are considered to be within flood zones from the River Severn and its tributaries. The economic impact of the devastation that our businesses have been through is massive. In my constituency alone, there has been more than £1 million of damage and costs.