UK flooding: Environment Agency chief Sir Philip Dilley defends 'effective' response after return from Barbados

'I think we’ve been very effective and efficient in what we’ve been doing,' Sir Philip told reporters

Lizzie Dearden
Wednesday 30 December 2015 13:49
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EA chairman heads to the north

The head of the Environment Agency was heading to flood-hit areas of northern England today after returning from his Christmas holiday in the Caribbean sunshine.

Sir Philip Dilley had been criticised for failing to cut his family break short amid some of the worst storms in decades, as flood defences were overwhelmed and even deliberately raised in York.

He emerged from his home in Marylebone, central London, this morning to be greeted by a group of journalists apparently eager to hear about his trip to Barbados.

“Did you have a nice holiday?” a reporter asked, while another following him questioned whether a beach was “the best place to be managing this crisis from”.

Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley leaves his flat in Marylebone, London, after arriving back in the country following a sunshine holiday in the Caribbean

“I’ve been in very close contact with a whole number of people,” a tanned Sir Philip said as he walked down the road. “Everybody can’t be everywhere at the same time.

“I think we’ve been very effective and efficient in what we’ve been doing. There’s obviously some lessons to learn and we’ll follow those through.”

As chairman of the Environment Agency (EA), he oversees its work managing flood risks in England and ensuring sufficient defences are in place.

Sir Philip said he was heading “up north” today and was expected to visit Yorkshire, where parts of York, Leeds and swathes of the surrounding towns and countryside are under several metres of floodwater.

He said he would be “very happy to speak” with affected residents and address their concerns.

A spokesperson for Sir Philip previously said he had been in “regular contact” with the EA during his holiday and highlighted that he visited Cumbria earlier this month in the aftermath of previous flooding caused by Storm Desmond.

Its successor Eva wreaked further devastation and now Storm Frank is sweeping across the UK, bringing yet more torrential rain and gales.

Three severe flood warnings remained in place along the River Yarrow in Crostont today, Lancashire, while almost 150 less serious warnings and alerts are still in force.

EA staff supported by the emergency services, armed forces and volunteers are continuing to reinforce defences, repair damage and clear river blockages.

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