Maria Eagle, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, has said that the Tories are failing to invest adequately in flood defences. She says the government is cutting funding while climate change is increasing the urgent need to protect homes across the UK.
In a speech at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Woking on Tuesday, Eagle referenced a recent report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which estimated that an extra 330,000 properties will be at serious risk from flooding by 2035, under the current level of spending.
Eagle said she believes flood risk is increasing due to climate change, adding that she is backed up by findings from the Met Office and CCC, along with many in the scientific community.
She said, “We know that the climate is changing. We know that human activity is contributing to that change. I think that this is the biggest challenge facing the world today.”
Eagle added that although the prime minister has recently announced some additional funding for flood hit areas, “It will do nothing to prepare us for the increased risk of severe flooding caused by our changing climate.
“This means another five years of David Cameron’s government would on average, put over 80,000 new properties at serious risk of flooding every five years,” she said.
The Conservatives have dismissed the claims, saying there have been real improvements in Britain’s flood defences in the last four years.
“This is just political posturing from Labour. There are actually fewer properties at future risk of flooding than when Labour were last in power. And don’t just take our word for it – that’s what their own figures show,” said a Conservative spokesperson
However, in July the CCC warned that the UK’s flood defences are “not adequate”. Its report concluded that Britain’s transport infrastructure, homes and water supplies are at risk.
Figures from the CCC show there were reductions of 20% in flood defence spending in the 2010 spending review, when the Conservatives came to power.
Commenting on the speech, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner, Guy Shrubsole said, “It’s great to see Labour toughening their position on climate change and flood risk – Labour’s right that households need to be protected from flooding caused by climate change, but they, along with all parties, must definitively commit to meeting the huge shortfall in funding for flood defences.”
Photo: William Hook via Flickr
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