Flood defences are expensive but they are essential

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When you look at the havoc wrought on other parts of the country by floods, we have a great deal to be thankful for around here.

From Cornwall through to Scotland, images of homes and businesses left devastated as floods have ripped through communities have become annual staples of news coverage. And it’s not just small coastal villages – who could forget the sight of major conurbations such as York and Leeds under water last winter?

That’s not to say we don’t get floods here – just ask the residents of Wallington or Emsworth. But given the low-lying nature of Portsmouth and much of the surrounding areas, we could have reasonably expected it to have been far worse.

This is in no small part due to existing flood defences.

It is therefore heartening to hear that protecting the city is at the forefront of the government’s flood defence strategy.

Floods minister Thérèse Coffey visited Portsmouth yesterday to see how work is progressing on the £44m scheme to shore up those defences. News that a further £96m is to be spent on strengthening Southsea’s defences is more than welcome.

As a result of all these works, Portsea island should have ‘once-in-500-year protection’, which means only the most catastrophic floods will penetrate the defences.

Creating entirely impenetrable defences in the face of Mother Nature’s full force would be nigh-on impossible, but once in 500 years is pretty good odds.

However, with the effects of climate change, who knows exactly what the future holds for our weather systems?

We can only plan for the worst and hope for the best. These schemes are a step in the right direction.