Environment Secretary makes statement on flooding
24 February 2020
George Eustice MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs updated the House on the recent flooding in the UK.
George Eustice: "this remains a live incident"
Storm Dennis has affected many parts of the country with floods. This follows Storm Ciara which also impacted areas of the UK.
The Environment Secretary, George Eustice, sent his condolences to the families and friends of 5 individuals who sadly lost their lives due to the storm, as well as those who have had extreme damage to their homes.
On Monday 17 February, Storm Dennis "cleared the UK" and "this remains a live incident”. The Secretary urged people in at-risk areas to “remain vigilent”.
He assured the House that “most areas are moving into recovery phase”, however, due to the high rain fall in some areas it is likely that “we will continue to see effects this week”.
"Some areas already received almost double the average rain fall for February" with some areas "receiving a months worth of rain in just 24 hours."
18 river gages across 15 rivers recorded the highest levels of water on record, triggered by the two storms.
Over 1,340 properties were flooded during the course of Storm Ciara, with over 1,400 flooded during Storm Dennis.
2 severe flood warnings, 107 flood warnings and 207 flood alerts “remain in place in England”. As well as an additional 13 flood warnings and 39 flood alerts that remain in place in Wales, and 1 flood warning in Scotland.
Mr Eustice said:
“We have deployed over 3 miles of temporary flood barriers and 90 mobile pumps and we’ve been keeping structres and rivers clear of debris”
“Over 1,000 Environment Agency staff per day have been deployed, with the assistance of around 80 military personnel.”
“I would like to record my thanks to all the response teams, including the Environment Agency, local authorities, our emergency services and the military”
He concluded by saying:
“Later this year we will set out our policies to tackle flooding in the long term and the Environment Agency will be publishing their updated floods and coasts strategy.”
“This country will also lead the global ambitions on climate change.”
Luke Pollard: "not enough is being done"
Luke Pollard, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that "not enough is being done, simply explaining what has happened does not stop it from happening again."
Mr Pollard also sent condolences, on behalf of the Opposition, to families who have "seen loved ones die". He also thanked the emergency services, the Environment Agency, local councils and volunteers.
However, he said that he is "disappointed by the slow and pedestrian approach we've seen from ministers since the flooding hit".
He then questioned why the Prime Minister did not organise a Cobra meeting, saying there was "no national leadership".
"We know that the climate crisis means we'll see more extreme weather more often and the consequences will be felt most by those communities that are most vulnerable.
"We need to have a proper plan for flooding that is going to address the causes and help those communities that are under water."
He concluded by saying:
"Lets be clear about the immediate need to ban building on vulnerable flood plains where rising waters is a genuine risk."
- Watch Parliament TV: Statement on flooding
- Transcripts of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber are available in Hansard online three hours after they happen.
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