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Environment Agency being 'used as a political football'

The embattled chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, has claimed that the agency is being "used as a political football for a good media story" in the recent flooding.

He was responding to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles' comments in an interview in which he suggested the government had "relied too much on the Environment Agency's advice".

Read: Government 'should have dredged' flood-hit Somerset

Writing in the Guardian, Lord Smith says it is "government rules – laid down by successive governments, Labour and Tory – that are at the heart of the problem".

Using the Somerset Levels as an example, he says that government rules prevent his agency assigning more than £400,000 to the area.

Watch: Lord Smith insists 'I have no intention of resigning'

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Lord Smith 'won't play silly games' after MP 'git' jibe

Lord Smith said he would not be drawn in to "silly little games".
Lord Smith said he would not be drawn in to "silly little games".

The chairman of the Environment Agency said he would not be drawn into "silly little games" after comments by local Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.

Mr Liddell-Grainger described Lord Smith as a "coward" and a "little git" ahead of his visit.

Background: Somerset MP furious at 'little git' Lord Smith

Speaking to ITV News Westcountry Lord Smith said:

"Mr Liddell-Grainger uses colourful language a lot of the time. I'm not going to play silly games like that, there's much more important things to be doing. Concentrating on what we can do seriously for the future protect of the Somerset Levels."

Watch the full interview with Lord Smith on the ITV News Westcountry website.

Environment Agency chief should 'get his act together'

A man who had built a giant wall out of clay and soil around his son's house in the village of Moorland to stem rising flood waters has called on Lord Smith to "chuck that red tape out the window."

Joe Notaro said: "That man on top wants to get his act together and chuck the red tape out the window."

He added: "They're wasting money on all these reports, they want to get real. We've trying to save the birds..badgers, rabbits....what we want to do is save our village."

Strong winds bring flooding risk to Devon and Dorset

Large waves and strong winds are threatening to cause further significant flooding along the Devon and Dorset coasts tomorrow where some communities and defences are vulnerable after this week’s storms.

Portland Beach Road near Weymouth in Dorset saw strong winds and high tides push water inland earlier this week.
Portland Beach Road near Weymouth in Dorset saw strong winds and high tides push water inland earlier this week. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Further heavy rainfall is expected starting this evening continuing into Saturday, exacerbating the risks of flooding from rivers and surface water across the south west, central and south east of England.

Chair of the agency Lord Smith said: "This weekend will see no respite in the extreme weather and I urge people especially in southern England to be prepared for further flooding and to sign up to Environment Agency flood warnings.”

Find out more on the Environment Agency website

Environment Agency chair's 'sympathy' after floods

The chairman of the Environment Agency has expressed "sincere sympathies" but has still not apologised to those who have been flooded.

Residents have said the agency is responsible for the extent of the floods due to for not dredging rivers.

On the Somerset Levels I met with people who had experienced terrible weeks of flooding and was able to express my sincere sympathies; flooding has a dreadful impact on people’s lives and my heart goes out to them.

I have talked with residents about the future of the Somerset levels and how we can work together with partners to deal with the flooding.

Dredging will form part of the answer and work will commence as soon as safe to do so. In the meantime our pumps continue to operate 24/7 to drain water away.

– Lord Smith

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Somerset MP furious at 'little git' Lord Smith

Local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, who represents Bridgwater and West Somerset, described Lord Smith as a "coward" and a "little git" ahead of his meeting with flooded residents today.

He said: "I will tell him what I bloody well think of him - he should go, he should walk. I'm livid. This little git has never even been on the telephone to me.

"When I find out where he is, I will give it to him. He has not told the local MPs, the local council or the local press where he is going to be.

"He's a coward."

Farmer 'bloody mad' as Lord Smith refuses to apologise

Jim Winkworth, a farmer and landlord of the King Alfred pub in the village of Burrowbridge, said he was "bloody mad" after a meeting with Lord Smith.

Jim Winkworth, landlord of the King Alfred pub in Burrowbridge, Somerset
Jim Winkworth, landlord of the King Alfred pub in Burrowbridge, Somerset Credit: ITV News

Asked how he felt by the Environment Agency chief's refusal to apologise, he said: "Bloody mad. We thought that's the least he could do today and he's not apologising or admitting any liability."

Speaking of Lord Smith's successor when he is due to stand down in the summer, Mr Winkworth said: "Whoever gets his job needs to be someone who is prepared to listen to people on the ground and actually kick some arse, get some work done and actually do some dredging and maintain structures".

Lord Smith reportedly told residents that it had set aside £400,000 for dredging but that this was not enough and there was "no point starting a job and not finishing it".

Watch: Lord Smith insists 'I have no intention of resigning'

Environment Agency head has 'no intention of resigning'

Speaking on a visit to the Somerset Levels, the chairman of the Environment Agency Lord Smith said:

I have no intention of resigning because I'm very proud of the work the Environment Agency and its staff have been doing right round the country in the face of the most extreme weather.

– Lord Smith, chairman, Environment Agency

Lord Smith 'proud' of Environment Agency work

The chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, has arrived in Somerset to meet residents affected by the flooding.

Speaking to reporters at a Wetlands Visitor Centre in Stoke St Gregory, he said he was very proud of his staff's work in recent months.

"We have been faced with the most extreme weather that we have seen for years," he said.

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