UK weather: Ice, rain and fears of more flooding as six-week plan for flooded areas is announced by Owen Paterson

Unsettled weather looks set to continue across parts of the UK

More ice and rain is expected to hit the UK today as temperatures plummet to around freezing and communities in the south west continue to tackle flooding.

The counties of Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset remain at risk of flooding as another day of rain hits the regions, and parts of Scotland and the far north of England could see sleet and some snow later today.

The Met Office has also issued yellow 'be aware' warnings for Grampian, Central, Tayside and Fife.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson faced tough questions when he visited the Somerset Levels today, where boats are now the only method of transport between some villages, which residents have dubbed “islands”.

Mr Paterson told angered residents at the Northmoor Pumping Site, near Bridgwater, a new plan to deal with a flood-hit area of south-west England will be drawn up within six weeks. Locals from the area said they were living in "third world" conditions - with "overflowing" septic tanks and water in their homes.

During the visit, Mr Paterson acknowledged that there was legitimate anger felt among politicians, farmers and residents on the Somerset Levels, who have claimed the lack of dredging of local rivers by the Environment Agency has exacerbated the problems they have faced.

Mr Paterson said the Environment Agency and local councils would produce a new plan, which would "almost certainly" involve a project to clear the Parrett and Tone rivers.

He told Sky News: "They are quite right to be angry, it's absolutely legitimate and that's how our political system works and that's why the two local MPs have brought this to my attention, that's why I convened the meeting of the experts last night, that's why I led the meeting this morning with the local councils and that's why I hope we will have a very clear action plan presented to me in six weeks time so that I can make a categoric decision once and for all."

The Environment Agency was criticised by Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddel-Grainger over the lack of dredging on the river system.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "Once it's dredged we can then maintain it but the Environment Agency has to stop this mucking around and get on with it."

Speaking at Northmoor Pumping Station, Councillor Julian Taylor, of Sedgemoor District Council, called the lack of dredging a "self-fulfilling prophesy".

"We've been having a lot of concern for at least 20 years saying the river should be dredged and put back to its original condition," Cllr Taylor said.

"We've had conspicuous neglect for 20 years where they have not maintained the rivers properly. If you do not maintain the rivers properly, you'll get water more quickly off the moors.

"It's a self-fulfilling prophesy. We are asking the minister to invest now for the future so that this doesn't happen again."

The Environment Agency has issued 137 flood alerts and 14 flood warnings - which mean immediate action is required - in the south west, two in the south east and one in the north east.

Temperatures could fall to around freezing resulting in a risk of icy stretches on roads and the potential for travel disruption.

Yesterday, residents in Chobham, Surrey, told BBC News a storm which swept across Kent, Sussex and Surrey whipped up a tornado so powerful that it “shattered” buildings and "lifted" feral cats off the ground.

Meanwhile, Somerset County Council has declared a “major incident” for all areas affected by flooding in the county.

Many communities are still coming to terms with the flooding that hit Somerset at the beginning of January and now face further problems.

Somerset County Council deputy chief executive Pat Flaherty said: "Our priority has to be to keep people safe.

"We are doing everything we can to do this and we believe that declaring a major incident shows just how urgent the situation is for many of our residents and communities.

"The reason we are taking this action is the long-term nature of the issues we are facing and to enable a consistent approach to the way that we deal with them."

Additional reporting by Press Association

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?