Environment Agency: 'Could have done better over flooding'

The Environment Agency chairman has admitted to ITV News that "we could have done better" in tackling the flooded areas in Somerset. But Lord Smith defended the agency's priorities, saying they were working with a "purse that was not limitless."

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EA chief: UK faces 'difficult choices' on flooding

The chairman of the Environment Agency has warned that Britain may face tough choices in the future including whether it wants to save "town or country" from flooding because it is too costly to defend both.

Flood water covers part of the Somerset Levels near Burrowbridge. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Lord Smith said "difficult choices" would have to be made over what to protect because "there is no bottomless purse" to pay for defences.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Lord Smith defended the EA after a week in which it has come in for heavy criticism over its handling of the flooding crisis.

He said the sea surge in December reached higher levels than the east coast surge of 1953, which cost more than 300 lives, but without the loss of life because of advances in flood warning and risk-management.

He added that "there are no quick fixes in the face of this kind of extreme rainfall" and that tough decisions lie ahead about how protection from flooding is managed in the future.

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'Absolutely everything' being done for flood-hit areas

The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson issued the following statement after the latest Cobra emergency meeting to discuss the UK's flooding.

With severe flood warnings still in place COBRA has met again today to ensure that all government departments, local authorities and agencies are working in unison and doing absolutely everything they can to help communities at risk.

Since Friday evening 73,000 homes have been protected in England from flooding and the Environment Agency is working extremely hard to protect communities by deploying demountable flood defences, sandbags and clearing waterways.

I have enormous sympathy for those who have been affected again this weekend and the government is working with all local councils to help communities recover. All requests for assistance have been met.

The pumping operation continues day and night in Somerset and today additional vehicles have been deployed by the county council to help with the relief effort.

  1. Wales

In pictures: recovery vehicles rescue bus hit by wave

Recovery vehicles remove the bus from the water Credit: Wales News Service

Heavy machinery has removed the bus from water at Newgale, Pembrokeshire.

Ten people were rescued on Saturday night after a large wave swept the vehicle into the water.

Broken glass and rubble are clearly visible inside the bus Credit: Athena Picture Agency

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  1. Anglia

Drivers warned to take care on flooded roads

A cycle path underwater near the river Chelmer Credit: ITV Anglia

Essex Fire and Rescue has warned drivers not to venture into flood water after several motorists had to be rescued overnight. Heavy rain has left some roads underwater, and there's been flooding along the river Chelmer where a cycle path is now impassable.

The Environment Agency says the worst risk of flooding in the area has now passed.

Floods near the river Chelmer Credit: ITV Anglia
Flooded fields near the river Chelmer Credit: ITV Anglia
  1. Border

Coast road closed after tidal surge

A tidal surge left debris strewn across the road. Credit: ITV Border

The coast road between Silloth and Dubmill point in Dumfries and Galloway is closed after tidal surges left large quantities of debris across the carriageway.

It will remain closed tomorrow.

The clear-up is underway but another high tide is expected today. Credit: ITV Border
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