Paterson 'can't do any more' to solve flooding problems

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told ITV News he "can't do more" than visit flood-hit communities and listen to the concerns of local people as he was criticised by furious residents during a visit to the Somerset Levels today.

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More rain on the way as flood warnings stay in place

There is a weather warning across the south coast and northern Scotland today. Credit: Met Office

More rain is forecast across the south coast and northern Scotland today. Many people in Somerset have already been flooded for over a month.

There are 142 flood alerts and 14 flood warnings in England. Credit: Environment Agency

Agency dismisses claims dredging would prevent floods

The Environment Agency has dismissed claims that increased dredging of rivers on the Somerset Levels would have prevented the recent widespread flooding

Kate Marks, Environment Agency flood risk manager, said Britain "has faced an extraordinary combination of weather conditions over the last six weeks".

Councillor Julian Taylor after the Environment Secretary's visit to Northmoor Pumping Station in Moorland, Somerset. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

"We are doing everything we can to pump water off the Somerset Levels and have 65 pumps working 24-7 in the biggest pumping operation ever undertaken in the county," she continued.

“Dredging is often not the best long term or economic solution and increased dredging of rivers on the Somerset Levels would not have prevented the recent widespread flooding.”

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Pontoon footpath helps flood victims

The pontoon footpath helping the residents of Muchelney Credit: Somerset County Council

A 200 metre long pontoon footpath has been installed to help flood stricken villagers get to work and school.

Somerset County Council is paying for the footbridge which stretches along part of the flooded Langport to Muchelney road.

Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, Cllr David Hall, said: “We are funding this pontoon along with the humanitarian boat service so the community in this area is not isolated and can go about their normal lives.

The pontoon stretches along the road to Muchelney Credit: Somerset County Council

Paterson 'can't do any more' to solve flooding problems

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has defended his response to the problems faced by flood-hit communities in south-west England.

Mr Paterson told ITV News that he could not do any more than visit the worst-hit areas in person.

The Environment Secretary said he was going to meet with experts, MPs and residents to come up with a clear plan on how to tackle the issue.

Largest pumping operation ever underway in Somerset

The single largest pumping operation is underway in flood-hit Somerset, the Environment Agency has announced.

Communities have been inundated with flooding since Christmas, and have been warned to expect further disruption.

Yesterday, farmers held a demonstration against the Agency, accusing it of failing to dredge local rivers.

The Prime Minister defended the Agency against the criticism praising their "excellent work" in dealing with the floods.

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'Major incident' in Somerset with further flooding due

Somerset County Council has declared a "major incident" with further flooding expected in the region.

Large parts of the county remain underwater after flooding earlier this month and now residents face further problems as the wet weather persists.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is expected to visit the worst-hit areas of Somerset today.

Somerset remains at risk of flooding. Credit: PA Wire

People living in properties identified as being at risk of flooding have been visited over the weekend by either emergency services, local authorities or local utility companies, while the Local Resilience Forum's Strategic Co-ordination Group met last night to discuss the threat.

"Our priority has to be to keep people safe," Somerset County Council deputy chief executive Pat Flaherty said.

"We are doing everything we can to do this and we believe that declaring a major incident shows just how urgent the situation is for many of our residents and communities."

Flooding risk in Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset

Somerset remains at risk of flooding. Credit: PA Wire

Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset remain at medium risk of flooding with another day of rain expected to hit the regions, the Met Office has said.

The Environment Agency has issued more than 14 flood warnings, with the majority in Southern England, which mean flooding is expected and immediate action is required.

PM defends Environment Agency amid criticism

David Cameron has defended the Environment Agency's response to the flooding after a Conservative MP labelled the agency as a "complete bunch of prats".

"I think the Environment Agency has done excellent work on helping to deal with the flooding and helping with communities," the Prime Minister said.

David Cameron speaks with residents and environment agency workers during a visit after storms caused flooding across Britain in December. Credit: PA Wire

"I have, in my own constituency, worked with them very closely. I think a couple of years ago there was a sense that they were very anti-dredging, very anti-action on particular rivers and streams.

"I think they have changed their attitude on that front but I will listen very carefully to what Ian has to say about these specific rivers. I know Owen Paterson is going to Somerset and is going to meet with the MPs.

"Obviously the Environment Agency has to listen to these concerns - you do get quite widespread concerns that river levels have risen. We have got to address those and give some clear answers."

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