FUNDING of £170 million will kick-start “shovel-ready” flood defence projects across England to protect homes, businesses and jobs, the Government has announced.

The funding comes on top of a long term £5.2 billion package being set out by the Government, to construct around 2,000 new flood and coastal defences that will better protect 336,000 properties from flooding by 2027.

And an extra £200 million will be provided for innovative projects, such as creating sustainable urban drainage schemes or wetlands to store water and boost wildlife at the same time, which will be tested out in 25 at-risk areas.

The projects include work from Brighton Marina to the River Adur, protecting critical infrastructure on the coast, including a power plant serving 300,000 homes and one of the largest cargo ports in the south of England, £2,000,000.

There are also proposed changes to the joint Government and insurance industry FloodRe scheme, as part of the plans being unveiled by ministers.

These include offering discounted premiums to households who have fitted protection measures such as air brick covers, and allowing payment of claims to include additional amounts to rebuild properties so they are better protected from future floods.

The Government also said it would review the policy for building in areas at risk of floods to protect future development, amid concerns over homes being built in the flood plain, and expand flood warning systems.

And the plans include a commitment to doubling the number of Government-funded projects which include natural solutions such as planting trees, restoring peatland and wetlands and looking after soils, which also have benefits for wildlife and tackling climate change.

The £5.2 billion investment, announced in the Budget in March, is for schemes from 2021.

But the £170 million cash injection will help boost the economy as areas recover from the pandemic by starting work from this year on 22 projects, which are ready to go with help to reach required levels of funding.

As well as protecting homes, the projects will defend more than 10,000 local businesses and safeguard around 100,000 jobs that rely on those firms, the Government said.

They include:

- Up to £21 million for the second phase of a flood prevention scheme in Leeds, which will protect more than 370 businesses and enable development of land to create homes and jobs.

The Government will also provide £1.3 million funding for “natural flood management” measures to reduce the flow of rainwater into the River Aire, such as planting woodland.

- Up to £30 million for the Severn Valley and £5 million in Tenbury Wells for two floodschemes to protect almost 3,000 homes in areas badly affected by last winter’s floods.

There is also £5. 4 million for tree planting and creating habitat to reduce the risk offlooding and store carbon throughout the Severn Valley.

- Funding of almost £43.5 million will deliver a tidal barrier and flood walls in Lowestoft and the Suffolk coast to protect key infrastructure and businesses and support offshore energy and tourism.

Other schemes being supported range from funding to protect critical infrastructure on the south coast around Brighton, Hove and Shoreham, to restoring peatland in the Peak District and protecting Hebden Bridge, in West Yorkshire, which was hit by floods this winter.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Last winter I saw for myself the misery and upheaval that flooding can bring to lives and livelihoods and I said we would do more to help people.

“This long-term plan will help push back the flood waters and protect hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses and livelihoods.

“Our record investment will also stimulate economic growth across the UK as we build back better.”

Mr Johnson visited flood-hit communities during the 2019 general election campaign but faced criticism for not doing so during floods earlier this year.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “The devastating impacts of last winter’sflooding were an important reminder of the need to continue to invest and accelerate action to reduce the impact of flooding on our communities.

“Our record investment and ambitious policies will better protect homes, schools, hospitals and businesses, but we also recognise that we cannot prevent flooding entirely, which is why we will ensure that communities at high risk are more resilient.”

The 22 shovel-ready flood defence projects the Government has announced are:

- Severn Valley flood risk management scheme, up to £30,000,000, and Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, up to £4,895,000, to protect nearly 3,000 homes in areas badly affected by last winter’s floods.

Severn Valley natural flood management and carbon offsetting scheme will also receive £5,400,000 for tree planting and habitat creation.

- Leeds flood alleviation scheme, for phase two of the project, which will protect more than 370 businesses and enable development of land for homes and jobs, subject to a business case approved by the Environment Department and Treasury, up to £21,000,000.

There will also be £1,320,000 for the Leeds natural flood management scheme.

- Sheffield Upper Don Valley and the Upper Don Catchment natural flood management programme, which will protect more than 650 businesses, £16,000,000.

- Lowestoft, Suffolk, flood risk management project will deliver a tidal barrier and floodwalls to protect key infrastructure and businesses, £43,486,439.

- Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, better protection for the town, including almost 1,000 businesses, while maintaining the importance of access to the river, £12,000,000.

- Derby, flood scheme to protect more than 1,000 business and help regeneration in the city, £10,000,000.

- Team Valley, £6,000,000

- Lowdham, Nottinghamshire, storage of water in reservoirs will help to reduce flood risk in the village, which has flooded three times in the last 12 months, £5,000,000.

- Benacre and Kessingland, Suffolk, flood risk management scheme, £3,297,660.

- Bude, Cornwall, The Crescent, a scheme to sustain existing protection and allow continued growth in the tourism industry, up to £2,140,000.

- Brighton Marina to River Adur, Sussex, protecting critical infrastructure on the south coast, including a power plant serving 300,000 homes and one of the largest cargo ports in the south of England, £2,000,000.

- Padiham, Lancashire, scheme protecting almost 300 businesses, £2,000,000.

- Lancaster, Caton Road, £1,400,000.

- Hexham, Northumberland, £1,000,000.

- Peak District, peatland restoration, £960,000.

- East Cowes, Isle of Wight, funding to reduce the risk of tidal flooding and increase resilience for properties and businesses, including the ferry terminal, £500,000.

- Falmouth, Cornwall, flood scheme to reduce risks associated with surface waterflooding and allow further growth in the town centre waterfront area, £500,000.

- Penketh and Whittle Brooks, Warrington, £480,000.

- Ponteland, Northumberland, flood alleviation scheme, to allow continued protection of the town, and better protect almost 500 businesses, £450,000.