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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy