EFRA Committee Seeks Answers to Recent Flooding

Cumbria Floods

EFRA Committee questions EA executives about flooding

The parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) has questioned community representatives and senior Environment Agency executives on recent flooding in the UK. The one-off enquiry, which took place on 6 January 2016, was organised in response to Storm Desmond in early December. Since then, Storms Eva and Frank have brought flooding to Yorkshire and Lancashire as well as continued flooding to Cumbria.

The first panel comprised of representatives from Cumbria. The second panel with the Environment Agency looked at flooding issues more generally, and examined what has happened across England during December and into the New Year.

The enquiry was broadcast on Parliament TV and can be viewed here.

MPs warning

On 15 December 2015, the EFRA Committee warned that the reduction in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra’s) budgets over the next four years must not affect vital flood protection work. The MPs want Defra to produce a plan showing how it will deliver vital services in the face of further cuts which will reduce administration budgets by over a quarter and overall resource budgets by 15%.

Committee Chair, Neil Parish MP said, “Defra’s budget reduced by around a quarter in the previous Parliament and the department now faces a further 15% cut by 2020. Savings have to be made, but the Department must prioritise frontline work like flood protection.

“We have asked the Secretary of State for a clear strategy outlining the impact of Spending Review cuts on vital services. We welcome Defra’s commitment to a six-year capital flood defence programme and its pledge to protect maintenance funding for activities such as river dredging.

“This is prudent investment since flood damage may cost more to repair than to prevent. But the increasing risk of more extreme flood events will stretch these budgets thinly.”

 Funding for flood defences

Defra’s funding plan relies on the Government being able to secure £600 million from external contributions – of which only £250 million has so far been secured, with only £61 million from the private sector.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Chair, Neil Parish MP: “We are pleased that the Government is committed to a £2.3 billion programme for flood defences over this Parliament.  But this relies heavily on investment from the private sector, which has not yet been guaranteed.”

Further information

Report: Defra performance in 2014-15

Report: Defra performance in 2014-15 (PDF321 KB)

Inquiry: Defra’s performance in 2014-15

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

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