UK weather: David Cameron blames Britain’s 'abnormal' winter storms on climate change as Met Office warns of more rain to come

Comments came as Environment Agency warned of flood risks continuing into Friday

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 08 January 2014 09:53
Dragon’s tail: the Aberystwyth Promenade
Dragon’s tail: the Aberystwyth Promenade

As warnings of floods and severe weather continued to affect large parts of Britain today, David Cameron said he believes the recent spate of “abnormal” winter storms can be attributed to climate change.

Experts have said the series of bad weather currently afflicting the UK is the worst for more than 20 years, and flood alerts are forecast to remain in place at least until Friday.

In the House of Commons today the Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said: “You will know that the science is clear that the extreme weather conditions affecting our communities, including around the Kent estuary, are a destructive and inevitable consequence at least in part of climate change.”

He asked Mr Cameron: “Given that you have said that this should be the greenest Government ever, will you now agree to support carbon reduction targets so that we can take real action to protect people and property?”

The Prime Minister replied: “I agree with you that we are seeing more abnormal weather events.

“Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not. I very much suspect that it is.

“The point is that whatever one's view it makes sense to invest in flood defences... it makes sense to get information out better and we should do all of those things.”

While the UK woke up to more settled conditions on Wednesday morning, the Met Office issued a severe weather warning for rain that came into effect at 12pm and was set to carry on until 9am on Thursday.

That new system of cloud was forecast to bring as much as 40mm of rain to some areas of Wales and south west England, and work its way northwards into tomorrow.

The Environment Agency has around 100 flood warnings in place across the country advising immediate action be taken, and its flood forecast suggests areas including Dorset, Somerset, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey will remain at “medium” risk until the end of the week.

Scotland was set for lighter showers today and tomorrow, though is not exempt from the 200 or so more minor flood alerts in place throughout the UK.

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The Met Office said: “A depression will pass northeastwards across the UK on Wednesday and early on Thursday, its associated bands of rain bringing further wet conditions to many areas.

“Given current sensitive hydrological conditions, there is a risk of further surface water flooding in Wales, and both river and surface water flooding in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.”

Environment Agency flood risk manager Paul Mustow told BBC News: “The risk continues this week, with communities in the South West and South East urged to stay safe and sign up to free flood warnings.”

The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said 86 properties in Oxford were flooded yesterday, when severe flood warnings were also in place on the Dorset and Cornwall coast.

On Monday night the agency sounded their flood siren warnings in Chiswell, Portland for the first time since they were installed 30 years ago, after sea defences were breached.

The coast was battered by the arrival of “Winter Storm Hercules”, the system which has left behind a record-breaking deep freeze in the US, and though that threat has receded now it caused widespread devastation.

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