The Government has come in for severe criticism over the past few days for the severe flooding which has hit the north of England and parts of Wales.

While David Cameron rejected claims that the flooding was exacerbated by a North-South divide in terms of defence spending, it emerged on Monday that a senior adviser had warned months ago that budget cuts would lead to the scrapping of defences in Yorkshire.

With further bad weather heading to our shores in the shape of Storm Frank, our sister paper i has run through 10 ways to avoid such widespread damage in future:

Picture: PA

1. Better flood warning systems

Advance warning and pre-planning can significantly reduce the impact from flooding, according to the deputy chief executive of the Environment Agency David Rooke.

2. Modify buildings against floods

Laurence Waterhouse, director of civil engineering flood consultancy Pell Frischmann, advised concreting floors and replacing plasterboard with more robust materials.

3. Construct above flood level

Construct all new buildings a metre above ground, suggested former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Professor David Balmforth.

4. Tackle climate change

Climate change has contributed to a rise in extreme weather, report scientists.

5. Increase flood-defence spending

Figures from the House of Commons library suggest that real-terms spending on flood defences has fallen by 20 per cent under David Cameron. Yesterday the Prime Minister rejected the allegation.

6. Protect wetlands and plant trees

Halting deforestation and wetland drainage could significantly reduce the impact of climate change on flooding, according to the WWF.

7. Restore natural river courses

Many rivers were straightened to improve navigability. Remeandering them increases their length and can delay flooding.

8. Introduce water storage areas

Following flooding in 2009 in Cumbria, a storage reservoir the size of 30 Olympic swimming pools was built, reducing the risk of flooding to one per cent from 20 per cent.

9. Improve soil conditions

Well-drained soil can absorb huge quantities of rainwater, preventing it from running into rivers.

10. Put up more flood barriers

Temporary barriers can be added to permanent defences such as embankments, increasing protection.

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