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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border