Britain faces a serious risk of floods in the coming months according to experts who yesterday criticised the Government for cutting national funding for flood defences.

A combination of exceptionally high tides and the risk of autumn storms and heavy downpours could bring serious floods to many parts of the country at a time when anti-flood funding is being cut.

Professor Edmund Penning-Rowsell, head of the Flood Hazard Research Centre at Middlesex University, warned that government cuts indicated official complacency over a risk that could only increase with time. "The maintenance of flood defences should not be subject to political machinations and the reversal in funding sends out a dangerous sign of uncertainty," Professor Penning-Rowsell said. "People enjoying the beach this summer are probably not aware that our coast is in crisis. It is where the risks and dangers of flooding are increasing."

Last month the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told the Environment Agency to cut its