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Flood defences are top priority, says Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman

The Government in this parliament has made available more than £2 billion to build new flood defences because we do recognise with the increasing frequency of extreme weather events a good use of taxpayers' money is to prevent the flooding happening.

"What these new flood defences will do is make sure that we better protect at least another 145,000 homes over the next four years."

– Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman

Environment Secretary meets flood victims

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman meets local residents Philip Nolwenn and Luke Nolwenn after flooding in Ottery St Mary, Devon Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

The Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has met with flood victims who saw a deluge of water come through their village during yesterday's floods.

Toby, a six-year-old rescue dog, was still trying to find his lost bone. On hearing the story, Ms Spelman said: "It's long gone I fear." Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

She was visiting Ottery St Mary, near Exeter, which saw some of its main roads turn into rivers after a month's worth of rain fell in just 24 hours.

Ms Spelman stopped at different locations around the village and talked to people about how effective these measures were during yesterday's downpour.

Philip and Nolwenn Luke described how an an early warning system allowed them to move the car to a safe area Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire


Environment Secretary's son given drugs ban

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman's teenage son Jonathan has been suspended from playing rugby for 21 months after admitting that he took banned substances, the sport's ruling body has confirmed.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman.

The Rugby Football Union announced the 17-year-old is barred from taking partin any match or tournament until October 19, 2013.

Jonathan admitted taking a number of drugs, including anabolic steroids and agrowth hormone, when he appeared before an independent disciplinary tribunal onMarch 26.

In February the Spelman family tried to suppress details about the case being published through a High Court injunction but later issued a statement saying Jonathan was "deeply sorry" for taking the substances.

An appeal has been lodged and will be heard at a date to be confirmed.

'Drought still at warning level one'

The Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has told ITV Daybreak that the UK is still only on "level one" in a three-tier drought warning system. It restricts "non-essential use of eater in domestic settings".

Level two would affect "non-essential water use in business". She said that we are unlikely to reach the most severe level, which would mean stand-pipes, but that if next winter is as dry as the last it could become a possibility.

She said that the drought affecting many parts of the UK was brought on by water leakages from pipes as well as the lack of rain, and advised viewers: "when you see a leak, report it".

Environment secretary's son sorry for taking illegal substances

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman says her son is "deeply sorry" for taking banned substances Credit: UPPA

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman's rugby-playing teenage son Jonathan has apologised for taking banned substances. The family will not appeal a High Court judge's refusal to continue a privacy injunction on the matter. In a joint statement with her husband the couple said:

"Our son, who was then aged 16, was injured in September 2011 and took some widely available drugs in order to aid his recovery. The substances are, however, banned under anti-doping rules."

"Our son knows that taking a banned substance can never, ever be right and he is deeply sorry for the mistakes he has made and is determined to learn from them. We will do everything we can to support him as he faces the consequences of his actions."