Government must do more to protect households at risk of further floods, say Tory MPs whose constituencies are worst hit

 

Environment Editor

Conservative MPs representing flood-hit constituencies are pressuring Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to do more to protect households against flooding and to take climate change more seriously, The Independent has learnt.

As new figures reveal that eight of the 10 constituencies most at risk of flooding are represented by Tories, the MPs have sounded the alarm about the urgent need to tackle the increasingly extreme weather they expect as a result of climate change.

“The recent floods are a wake-up call on the need to do more to protect households from severe weather events. We also need a renewed focus on tackling climate change, as well as preparing for it,” said Neil Parish, Conservative MP for flood-hit Tiverton and Honiton in Devon.

Henry Bellingham, Tory MP for North West Norfolk, where storms damaged sea defences, added: “There is no room for complacency and our sea and flood defences will require further investment in order to increase their height. I also believe that it is vital that the Government should look at a new funding formula for sea and flood defences that will enable additional funds to be forthcoming.” Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood in Nottingham, said: “The Government must do more to protect householders from the effect of climate change and encourage developers to build climate change mitigation into new [housing].”

The MPs were speaking after the statistics watchdog contradicted the Government’s claim to be spending a record amount on flood defences. It said the Coalition spent £2.34 billion on flood defences over four years, compared to the £2.37 billion spent by Labour in the previous four – a £247 million funding cut in real terms. This government is only spending fractionally more if it includes money raised from private firms and other third parties and ignores the impact of inflation, it said. 

Furthermore, the watchdog pointed out that the figures included the budget of more than £600 million inherited from Labour after Gordon Brown raised flooding as a serious concern and hiked spending – and after which spending was cut sharply as a result of George Osborne’s 2010 austerity spending review.

The eight Conservative and two Liberal Democrat MPs raised their concerns about flood spending and global warming a month after Mr Paterson was accused of “incredible complacency” over climate change when new figures showed his department has slashed spending on domestic “climate change initiatives” by 41 per cent in this financial year, compared to the previous one.

John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham’s Yardley ward, said: “The links between climate and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been predicted since 1938, at the latest, however action to deal with this has been begrudging.”

Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, added: “There can surely now be nobody who doubts climate change is upon us. Year on year we are seeing more weather extremes, whether it is in terms of temperature, rainfall or storms. But the world response so far, in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been woefully inadequate and even countries like the UK where we have done more than most have not done enough.”

Peter Luff, Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire, said: “A lot more can be done to protect individual properties from flooding”, while Conservative MP for South Swindon, Robert Buckland said: “Flood defence plans must take into account the impacts of climate change, like more rainfall and higher sea levels.”

The Conservative MPs Henry Smith, Neil Parish and Laura Sandys – of Crawley, Tiverton & Honiton and South Thanet, respectively – also said the recent weather had been a “wake-up call” and called for a greater focus on tackling climate change.

Analysis of Environment Agency data by the Association of British Insurers has revealed that the areas of England and Wales most at risk of flooding are dominated by Conservative MPs. Mark Simmonds, MP for Boston and Skegness, tops the list, with 7,550 homes in his constituency at significant risk of flooding, while Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary and MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, is at number five, with 6,541 homes at risk.

Mr Hammond said: “The Lower Thames has the largest number of properties at risk from river flooding in the UK and this must be addressed. The Lower Thames Flood Alleviation Scheme sets out a clear way forward that will, in the medium term, protect the vast majority of properties at risk.”

Friends of the Earth’s Guy Shrubsole said: “These figures show that hundreds of thousands of households across the country are threatened with the misery of flooding – this ought to be a major issue for politicians of all parties. With Conservative constituencies disproportionately at risk, it’s clear that David Cameron needs to back up his warm words with solid action.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said: “We are looking at all potential options to tackle flooding and are spending £2.4m on flood management and protection from coastal erosion. That is more than ever before.”

News
Mickey Rourke celebrates his victory against opponent Elliot Seymour
people
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
people
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
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

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game