'I should have come home earlier from Barbados', admits floods chief

The chairman of the Environment Agency has said he wished he had returned earlier from a Christmas holiday in Barbados to help deal with flooding in northern England.

Sir Philip Dilley has faced criticism for holidaying in the Caribbean over Christmas while more flooding hit parts of England, and for a statement put out by the Environment Agency suggesting he was at home with his family.

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Working with nature keeps town safe from floods

Despite weeks of heavy rain that inundated the surrounding areas, the town of Pickering in North Yorkshire stayed safe from the floods simply by working with rather than against nature.

Pickering flooded in 2007 but couldn't get funding for a flood barrier. Instead a smaller, and cheaper reservoir to store water and let it out slowly was built further up Pickering beck.

In addition, 167 small, leaky dams were built out of logs and branches and trees were planted.

ITV News Science Correspondent Alok Jha reports:

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Environment Agency chairman admits flooding regrets

The chairman of the Environment Agency has told MPs that he wished he had ended his Christmas holiday in Barbados sooner to fly back and deal with the floods.

But Sir Philip Dilley denied he felt guilty, despite not returning until four days after the Boxing Day deluge.

He and other executives were questioned on Wednesday about the agency's handling of the crisis.

ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan reports:

EA chief defends chairman: It was my responsibility

Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan has hit back at suggestions there were no members of senior management at the scene of the floods - saying he was there himself on Boxing Day.

Speaking to MPs, he defended a decision by chairman Sir Philip Dilley to go abroad to Barbados over the Christmas holidays.

He said he was the one responsible for the operational response to the floods, and said he had been there since the beginning.

EA chief admits: I should have returned from Barbados sooner

Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley said with hindsight, he wishes he had returned to the UK from his Barbados holiday sooner as the flooding crisis unravelled.

He was forced to defend himself over criticism for his holiday as he appeared before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee - but said he does not feel guilty.

Sir Philip Dilley

He told MPs the extent of the crisis did not become clear until Boxing Day, and he began to investigate flights back the following day - and arrived in the UK on December 29.

He insisted his role was largely one of oversight, and said the team on the ground had dealt with the situation in the best way they could.

Sir Dilley said he continues to work remotely while in the Caribbean, as his wife comes from there and they own a home there.

"I do feel at home there," he said, in response to questions over why an Environment Agency statement on his whereabouts - which he admitted he approved personally - said he was 'at home with family'.

Flooding solutions 'must include local knowledge'

Greater community involvement is necessary to find flooding solutions which reflect local knowledge, Environment Agency chiefs have admitted.

Deputy chief executive David Rooke told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee that the agency had undertaken studies to try to develop ways of better communicating risk to people who might be affected.

He said it was "essential" for the agency to build trust with communities, and find solutions that communities want.

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Corbyn challenges Cameron over handling of flood crisis

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn critcised the Prime Minister over the handling of the recent flooding in the north during the first PMQs session of the new year.

The opposition leader demanded answers over whether lessons had been learned from the floods of January 2014.

David Cameron responded by insisting that they had - and said they would learn further lessons from the latest crisis.

He vowed to look at "everything that has been done" to see what improvements could be made for the future.

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