Election 2019: Conservative Party Manifesto Pledges on Flooding and The Environment

In the lead up to the 2019 General Election, Unda reviews the major political parties’ manifestos with particular focus on how they attend to address the indirect issues which lead to increased flooding and their pledges to defend communities from flooding if they come to power. 

Pledges concerning capital spend on defending communities, how they intend to tackle climate change, new home build and infrastructure programmes and the protection of the environment over the coming years are also factors of concern when addressing the direct issue of flooding.

Previous Promises and Pledges

We also look back at our original thoughts from the previous election at the bottom of this article.

The Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2019

Key points which relate to Flood Risk

  • £100 billion in additional infrastructure spending  of which Flood defences will receive £4 billion in new funding
  • Target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.
  • Give new support to people in rural and coastal communities – post Brexit
  • Farmers to act as Stewards of the natural world
  • New independent Office For Environmental Protection
  • Reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure
  • New independent Office For Environmental Protection
  • 75,000 acres of trees a year by the end of the next Parliament, as well as restoring our peatland.

Revive our Towns and Cities

Pg 27

“To underpin this national renewal, we will invest £100 billion in additional infrastructure spending – on roads, rail and other responsible, productive investment which will repair and refurbish the fabric of our country and generate greater growth in the long run. For example, flood defences will receive £4 billion in new funding. We will ensure that we are always spending what we can afford – with strict limits on borrowing and repayment costs. We will use this historic investment to level up and connect this country, so that everyone can get a fair share of its future prosperity.”

Unda’s view

The proposed £4 billion new funding is to be spread over a 5 year term according to their Costings Document.  What this fails to state is how many new flood defence schemes will be created, how many homes and businesses currently at risk will be protected and what level of protection these properties will be afforded in the coming years given we are experiencing a climate emergency .

This level of spend is not a surprise given the current Government faced criticism for its perceived slow response to the flooding which hit areas around South Yorkshire in the recent weeks.

Footnote: 17 Totals £4 billion over five-year period

Places We Want to Live In


Since 2010 there has been a considerable increase in homebuilding. We have delivered a million homes in the last five years in England: last year, we delivered the highest number of homes for almost 30 years.

But it still isn’t enough. That is why we will continue our progress towards our target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

This will see us build at least a million more homes, of all tenures, over the next Parliament – in the areas that really need them. And we will make the planning system simpler for the public and small builders, and support modern methods of construction.

Unda’s View

Increasing pressure for land has resulted in developers seeking permission in areas considered ‘at risk’ of flooding. Building in these areas is not an issue if the property is designed and built in such a sustainable manner that it takes flood resilience into account without interrupting the natural flow of the floodplain.  Given we are faced with a climate  emergency ultimately building more flood resilient communities has to be a priority.

Support Rural Life and Coastal Communities

Pg 42

This Government is committed to levelling up all parts of the United Kingdom – and getting Brexit done will enable us to give new support to people in rural and coastal communities, and for our farming and fishing industries.

Unda’s View

Rural and coastal communities are often hit hard when an unpredictable flood occurs.  Any Government support to allow these communities to quickly get back on their feet and back to business after a flood is always welcomed. How much the Conservative Party is looking to budget for this initiative who knows? 

Pg 43

We want people, both at home and abroad, to be lining up to buy British. And one of the great opportunities of Brexit is the chance to lead the world in the quality of our food, agriculture and land management – driven by science-led, evidence-based policy. And we want those same farmers and fishermen to act as the stewards of the natural world, preserving the UK’s countryside and oceans as they have for generations.

Unda’s comments

 Farmers are stewards of our environment and have long been responsible for taking reasonable measures to prevent their farmland from flooding; keeping ditches clear and farming the land correctly helping to  break the vicious cycle of flooding. 

Stewards of Our Environment

Our Environment Bill will guarantee that we will protect and restore our natural environment after leaving the EU. Because conservation has always been at the very heart of Conservatism.

  • We will set up a new independent Office For Environmental Protection and introduce our own legal targets, including for air quality.
  • We will invest in nature, helping us to reach our Net Zero target with a £640 million new Nature for Climate fund. Building on our support for creating a Great Northumberland Forest, we will reach an additional 75,000 acres of trees a year by the end of the next Parliament, as well as restoring our peatland.

Unda’s comments

Unda welcomes with open arms the decision to create a new Nature for Climate fund. Planting productive woodland in specific areas of the UK could play a critical role in reducing the risk of flooding in the lower parts of a river catchment by enhancing flood storage in the upper reaches.

By pledging to restore our long depleted Peatlands which act as a natural buffers (due to their abilities to soak up water) against flooding, slowing the flow of water through the uplands of a catchment and helping to reduce flood risk downstream.

These natural flood management schemes can only have a long term positive impact on the communities located in all parts of a river catchment particularly those in the lower reaches who are often the worst affected.

Previous Manifesto

So how does The Conservative Party manifesto fair on the issue of flooding?

The key points of the manifesto relating to flooding include;

  • Plans to build 200,000 starter homes
  • Give people the right to build by at least doubling the number of custom-built and self-built homes by 2020.
  • Build a further 1,400 new flood defence schemes to protect 300,000 new homes.

Election 2015: Conservative Party Manifesto pledges on Flood. Extracts from the Manifesto;

We will build 200,000 Starter Homes and more affordable housing – pg. 52

We will build 200,000 quality Starter Homes over the course of the next Parliament, reserved for first-time buyers under 40 and sold at 20 per cent below the market price. We have delivered over 217,000 new affordable homes since 2010. We will now go further, delivering 275,000 additional affordable homes by 2020. And we will offer 10,000 new homes to rent at below market rates, to help people save for a deposit.

We will give you the Right to Build – pg. 52

We aim at least to double the number of custom-built and self-built homes by 2020, and we will take forward a new Right to Build, requiring councils to allocate land to local people to build or commission their own home, as you can do in most of Europe.

We will protect the Green Belt – pg. 52

We have safeguarded national Green Belt protection and increased protection of important green spaces. We have abolished the Labour Government’s top-down Regional Strategies which sought to delete the Green Belt in and around 30 towns and cities and introduced a new Local Green Space planning designation which allows councils and neighbourhood plans.

We will help you enjoy cleaner air and water – pg.54

We will continue to do even more to tackle air pollution and clean up our rivers and waterways, including supporting the Thames Tideway Tunnel. We have spent over £3 billion on improving flood defences, and capped the cost of flood insurance. We will now go further, building 1,400 new flood defence schemes, to protect 300,000 homes.