Climate change should be treated as a national security issue by the Government, Labour has said, as England braces itself for more flooding cause by Storm Frank.
Lisa Nandy, the party’s shadow energy and climate change secretary, called on the Government to update its national resilience plan to deal with increasingly frequent extreme weather.
Hundreds of homes have been evacuated across Scotland, the North of England, and Northern Ireland as Storm Frank brings torrential wind and gales with severe flood warnings indicating danger to life.
The latest storm comes amid a surge in extreme weather in the UK, with five of the six wettest years on record having occurred since the year 2000, according to the Met Office.
Storm Frank it starting to batter the UK coastline after unprecedented flooding across the North, including in York, where much of the city has been left under water.
The UK is also simultaneously experiencing one of its warmest Decembers on record.
“The government’s ‘cut now, crisis later’ approach to flooding has to end. Increasing spending on flood defences will be crucial, but these horrifying floods also underline why climate change must be a national security priority,” Ms Nandy said.
“Ministers must urgently update Britain’s climate resilience plan to keep people safe from the worsening risks we face from extreme weather.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell on Tuesday called on the Conservatives to sign up to a cross-party agreement to maintain flood defence spending across governments.
In Pictures: Floods hit the UK
In Pictures: Floods hit the UK
1/17 Floods hit the UK
Members of Cleveland Mountain Rescue and soldiers from 2 Battalion The Duke of Lancasters Regiment evacuating people from the Queens Hotel in York city centre as the River Ouse floods on December 27, 2015
2/17 Floods hit the UK
Teams in Whalley evacuate villagers from their homes
3/17 Floods hit the UK
A resident of Glenridding, which flooded for the third time this month, surveys the damage
4/17 Floods hit the UK
The River Ouse, York, has burst its banks
5/17 Floods hit the UK
A soldier from the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s regiment helps to sure up flood defences in Appleby, Cumbria, one of the areas worst affected by the floods
6/17 Floods hit the UK
Experts believe the cost of clearing up the most recent flooding could exceed £50m (PA)
7/17 Floods hit the UK
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in York
8/17 Floods hit the UK
A police helicopter photographed the extent of the flooding in York on 27 December.
9/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding at Clifford's Tower in York on 27 December
10/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding along York's Inner Ring Road on 27 December
11/17 Floods hit the UK
Water runs out of the Lowther pub in York on 27 December after the River Ouse bursts its banks in York city centre.
12/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooded streets in Dumfries, Scotland on 30 December
13/17 Floods hit the UK
A car left submerged in floodwater in Newton Stewart, Scotland
14/17 Floods hit the UK
Staff at the Worlds End bar in Dumfries Scotland desperately try to pump floodwater out of the building
15/17 Floods hit the UK
A man stands in the doorway of his cottage in the flooded town of Straiton in Scotland
16/17 Floods hit the UK
Flooding in the village of Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Scotland
17/17 Floods hit the UK
Man wades through floodwater outside a fish and chip shop in Dumfries, Scotland
A House of Commons library note published in November found that the last Labour government has increased central government spending on flood defences by 75 per cent and that the 2010 Coalition had cut it by 20 per cent.
Lord Krebs, an environmental advisor to the Government, told MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee earlier this year that the Government’s record on responding to climate change was not good.
His committee had warned that the National Climate Adaption Programme “does not amount to a coherent programme”.
David Cameron has however defended the Government’s record.
“We are going to spend £2.3bn on flood defences in this parliament but we will look at what's happened here and see what needs to be done,” he said at the weekend.
He also claimed more was being spent on flood defences in the north than the south of England, where the impact of flooding has been more limited and where London is protected by the Thames Barrier.Reuse content