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MPs question Defra about private funding for defences

MPs have asked Defra to provide more information about how private companies will contribute towards the costs of flood defences.

Temporary flood defences at the Connswater River in Belfast Credit: Paul Faith/PA Wire

A spokesman for Defra said that so-called partnership funding is expected to deliver around £148 million up to 2015.

But today's report from the Efra committee calls for more detail on the level of contributions from businesses and organisations that could benefit from the flood defences, and how this will increase in the future.

Maria Eagle: Defra must explain impact of cuts

Shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle has called on Defra to explain how cuts to the Environment Agency, which it funds, will not have an "adverse impact" on communities at risk of flooding.

[Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has] failed to prioritise investment in flood defences, nor explained how communities at risk from flooding will not be adversely impacted by major reductions in Environment Agency staff, despite evidence that extreme weather conditions are set to become more frequent.

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Defra spending 'more money than ever' on tackling floods

The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has rebutted concerns raised by MPs that the department may struggle to deal with future flooding as a result of cuts to its budget.

Water covers the coastal roads at Clevelys near Blackpool Credit: John Giles/PA Wire

A spokesman said the department was currently spending "more money than ever before" on tackling the risk of flooding and coastal erosion, putting the figure at more than £2.3 billion.

"We'll also be making record levels of capital investment and will be spending over £400 million by 2020/21," he added.

"In addition we have provided the Environment Agency with an above-inflation increase of £5 million on their floods maintenance work in 2015/16."

Recent flooding 'reinforces concerns' about Defra cuts

The chairwoman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) parliamentary committee, Anne McIntosh, has said that the recent flooding reinforces her concerns about Defra's ability to cope on a smaller budget:

Defra is a small ministry facing massive budget cuts and which relies on a large number of arms-length bodies to deliver many significant areas of policy.

Ministers must clarify how further budget cuts over £300 million over the next ... two years will impact on the funding provided to these agencies and the ability of the department to respond to emergencies ...

Recent flooding events over the Christmas and New Year period reinforce the Committee's concerns about cuts to the Defra budget and how these will be realised.

– Anne McIntosh, chair, efra committee

Environment Sec: DEFRA 'has to make efficiencies'

The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has admitted his department "has had to make efficiencies" after the Environment Agency confirmed that it is making 1,550 redundancies, but said that frontline services will be protected:

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Badger culls to continue in west Somerset

The trial period is likely to be extended by three weeks to hit the target of eradicating 70% of the animals. Credit: PA

Badger culls are to continue in one of the areas where the controversial measure has been trialled.

Natural England said a new licence authorises a three-week control operation to be carried out in west Somerset this autumn, while an application to extend it in the second area - west Gloucestershire - has also been received.

It comes after the action, intended to limit the spread of bovine tuberculosis, was this week condemned as a "farce" after ministers admitted that not enough animals are being killed.

Paterson comment inspires 'badger goalpost' game

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson's explanation that a pilot cull failed to reach its target because "badgers moved the goalposts" has been ridiculed on Twitter.

His comments inspired the online game: "Owen Paterson's Badger Penalty Shootout."

Can you beat those 'pesky badgers' in the penalty shootout game? Credit: usvsth3m
The goalposts swiftly move from side-to-side as you take aim. Credit: usvsth3m
And the victor can share their penalty shootout success on social media sites. Credit: usvsth3m

Environment Sec: 'Badgers moved the goalposts'

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the BBC "badgers moved the goalposts" when he was asked why the pilot cull failed to reach its target.

Badgers have moved the goalposts on cull targets, according to the Environment Secretary. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A badger cull in west Somerset has been extended in a bid to make up for the shortfall.

When asked why he had "moved the goalposts" and claimed the cull was a success, Mr Paterson said: "The badgers moved the goalposts.

"We're dealing with a wild animal, subject to the vagaries of the weather and disease and breeding patterns."

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