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MPs: 'Ministers must take action now' over flooding

MPs have welcomed £270 million extra funding for tackling flooding that has been announced by the Government this year, but said £130 million of that had been reallocated from elsewhere in the Environment Department's budget, rather than being additional.

We have repeatedly called on the Government to increase revenue funding so that necessary dredging and watercourse maintenance can be carried out to minimise flood risk, yet funding for maintenance remains at a bare minimum.

Ministers must take action now to avoid a repeat of the devastation caused by the winter floods.

The Government needs to recognise the importance of regular maintenance work and put it on an equal footing with building new defences.

– Committee's chairwoman Anne McIntosh

Overall funding did not reflect the increased flood risk the country faced. Funding for maintenance work - a "Cinderella" area - needs to keep pace with the growing risk caused by more frequent extreme weather events and to look after an increasing number of flood defences being built, the MPs said.

They urged the Environment Department (Defra) to draw up fully-funded plans to address the current backlog of maintenance work, including routine dredging, as well as to maintain the growing numbers of man-made flood defences.

MPs warn flood protection should take priority

MPs have warned that maintaining flood protection for communities should take priority over cost-cutting, to prevent a repeat of the devastation caused by the winter floods.

MPs warn flood protection should take priority. Credit: PA

The Parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee said in a report on the floods that funding for clearing rivers, routine dredging and maintaining existing flood defences is at a "bare minimum".

While the committee commended the relief effort for the floods, which saw 7,000 properties flooded as the UK was hit by repeated storms and the wettest winter on record, they said investment in flood prevention was preferable to spending on clean-up.


Forecasters warn of flooding in east of England

Yellow rain warnings are present in the east on Tuesday. Credit: Met Office

Heavy rain across the east of England could cause flooding over the next 48 hours, forecasters have warned.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning of rain for the region, predicting localised flooding which could cause disruption to travel.

The persistent wet weather will last until tomorrow night with up to 2.76ins (70mm) of rain expected in worst-hit areas including parts of Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire and the Humber.

The Environment Agency (EA) also warned of a flood risk in the east, mainly from surface water and low lying rivers.

Baby airlifted to safety during deadly Balkan floods

Dramatic footage from Belgrade has shown a mother and baby being airlifted from a house after floods ravaged parts of Serbia and neighbouring Bosnia.

Thousands of people in the Balkans have been evacuated from their homes over the past few days as the region was hit by the heaviest rainfall since measuring started 120 years ago.

The Associated Press news agency, which provided the video, reports that an estimated 20 people have died in Bosnia and Serbia as a result of the flooding.

Nationwide emergency measures were declared after rain-swollen rivers have flooded roads, cut off power and caused more than 200 landslides.

Government 'overlooked' developing Ukraine crisis

The Government failed to spot developments leading up to the crisis in Ukraine, a committee of MPs and peers has said.

The report from the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy said the National Security Council should spend more time looking at long-term issues affecting national security.

Recent events in Ukraine may not have been precisely predictable but the fact that Ukraine was unstable and Russia might react to that instability was widely recognised.

The impact of EU policy towards Ukraine on stability in the region appears to have been overlooked, perhaps in part because EU matters are considered not in the National Security Council but in another Cabinet committee.

The crisis in Ukraine is the type of event we had in mind when calling on the NSC to give time to horizon-scanning and longer-term, strategic issues.

Warning of 'gaps' in UK's national security strategy

The Government needs to rethink its national security strategy to address "gaps", a parliamentary committee has said.

The report criticised the Government's response to the recent floods. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy said the current strategy, drawn up in 2010, had in some areas been made "less relevant by events".

One area criticised by the group of MPs and peers was the lack of a "joined-up" response to the flooding that hit the UK last winter.


Flood protection restored to 'over 100,000 homes'

The Environment Agency (EA) says it has repaired 350 flood defences and protected 100,000 homes in the process, after winter floods battered the south of England.

Repairs have been completed in Weymouth, where sea defences were washed away by stormy seas during January and February.

Communities in Somerset were still cut off by flood waters in February this year. Credit: PA

The EA has also repaired defences at Greatham Creek in Teesside, where flood waters ripped a 50m breach in the sea defence embankment.

Beaches along the Lincolnshire coast have also had their dune systems repaired to restore protection to over 20,000 properties.

The restored defences would supply "peace of mind" but the job was far from finished, the EA said.

Dr Paul Leinster, chief executive of the EA, said: "There is still much more to do, and thanks to the completed inspections we now have a full picture of the condition of all the flood risk management assets across the country."

Gatwick chaos during floods 'a wake-up call'

The Christmas Eve chaos at Gatwick Airport should be "a wake-up call for airports across the UK" in tackling disruption, a report by MPs has said.

More than 11,000 travellers were affected by delays and cancellations on December 24 after flooding caused a power failure at the West Sussex airport.

Report finds that Gatwick Airport chaos during flooding in December 2013 should be a 'wake-up call' Credit: PA

In a report today, the House of Commons Transport Committee said that passengers had told of poor and often inconsistent provision of information about what was happening, lack of clarity about who was in charge, a lack of basic facilities and confusion about what expenses could be reimbursed.

The committee's report said: "The problems at Gatwick at Christmas Eve should be a wake-up call for airports across the UK to get on top of operational resilience issues.

"Disruption of whatever nature should be met with well-drilled plans, familiar to airport operators, airlines, and other contractors, which put passenger interests first."

PM: South west is well and truly open for business

David Cameron has met workers who helped to reopen the Dawlish railway line after it was damaged following the February storms.

The Prime Minister tweeted:

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