Climate change and flooding should be treated as a national security threat, Labour says

Extreme weather is increasingly common across the UK with most of the wettest years on record since 2000

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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.

Lisa Nandy is Labour's shadow climate change and energy minister

“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.

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.