Government must do more to prevent flooding

Andy Newman, Labour Party As someone who has not personally been affected by flooding, beyond inconvenience on the roads, my heart goes out to those whose homes and livelihoods have been blighted by it.

Sadly, I fear that government policy on flood prevention is in chaos, as Friends of the Earth recently revealed that David Cameron and Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, have both issued misleading statements, falsely claiming that they were spending more than the last Labour government.

FoE say: “David Cameron stated last week in the House of Commons: “In this current four-year period, we are spending £2.3 billion, compared with £2.1 billion in the previous period”. His beleaguered Environment Secretary has repeated the claims on numerous occasions. But a new briefing just published quietly by Defra states that the Coalition are spending less during the current 4 years (£2.34bn between 2011 and 2015) than the last government committed under the previous 4 years (£2.37bn between 2007 and 2011).”

What is more, Owen Paterson has removed “prepare for and manage risk from flood “ from Defra’s key responsibilities and issued four alternate priorities which do not include flood prevention.

Indeed the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee criticized the Government in July 2013 for the delays in enacting the provisions on sustainable drainage from the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

It is tempting to ask whether Owen Paterson’s famous skepticism over the issue of climate change influences his reluctance to acknowledge the existence of elevated likelihood of year on year flooding, and therefore his unwillingness to put in place adequate defences. In Parliament Owen Paterson has refused to endorse the Prime Minister’s view that climate change is contributing to the increase in abnormal weather events.

While the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats disingenuously present themselves as friends of rural communities, their unwillingness to plan or invest for flood defence, based upon an unholy mixture of climate change skepticism, incompetence and penny pinching, is undermining both the economy and infrastructure of areas prone to flood.

Published and promoted by Chippenham Labour Party on behalf of Andy Newman, both of 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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