The UK Environment Agency in late December 2015 raised the Foss Barrier, which was built in 1987 to protect Yorkshire from floods caused by the River Ouse, after the barrier

UK Government Beefing Up Flood Defenses

Prime Minister David Cameron announced a $59 million package that includes reimbursement for fire and rescue agencies.

After severe flooding during the 2015 year-end holiday season affected thousands of Britons, Prime Minister David Cameron on Jan. 3 announced his government will spend about $59 million on improving flood defenses in hard-hit areas, including an approximately $15 million investment to strengthen the Foss Barrier in Yorkshire.

The UK Environment Agency raised the barrier, which was built in 1987 to protect Yorkshire from floods caused by the River Ouse, after the barrier's controls were flooded – so the barrier would not be left down without power, according to an agency spokesman. Flooding would have been even worse had the barrier stayed down, he said, although residents criticized the agency for opening it last week and allowing widespread flood damage.

Cameron's government has promised to spend about $3.4 billion during the next six years on flood defenses nationwide and to spend $295 million on improved flood protection after two recent storms.

"I have seen at firsthand the devastation caused by flooding. And that's why this work to repair and improve flood defenses is so vital," Cameron said, adding that the overall investment will protect 300,000 houses nationwide.

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