“No national database is available which contains the type, height, design level, and maintenance conditions of U.K. river flood defenses even for main rivers.” (1947 UK Floods: 60 Year perspective p8)
From this it also follows that the government has no national record of the state of repair of those flood defences – although given the wholly inadequate levels of funding there are certainly some issues there, particularly in rural areas.
Most significantly however, it is clear that if the government has no national record of either where flood defences exist or their state of repair – then any claim that the government has a credible flood defence strategy is clearly nonsense.
What we have instead is a piecemeal approach to both river and coastal flooding, which has been primarily driven by the amount of money allocated by the chancellor of the exchequer, rather than based on any coherent strategy of what is actually needed to provide a reasonable level of protection.
The government is planning a new flooding bill to tidy up flooding legislation – one of the recommendations of Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the 2007 floods. However, what is most urgently needed is for the government to have a strategy based on accurate local knowledge not only of which areas are likely to flood, but also of where existing flood defences are - and equally importantly where they are not - and their condition. Without this basic information the government cannot claim to have a credible national flood prevention strategy.