As weather warnings continue to be issued for the storms expected in the run-up to New Year’s Eve, Friends of the Earth has warned that the situation may get worse if resources and staff at the Environment Agency are cut as planned.
Storm, heavy winds and rains have caused disruption over Christmas time to thousands of families across the UK. Many were left without power on Christmas Day, with railways and motorways also obstructed by fallen trees.
The Environment Agency has worked hard, receiving praise from David Cameron, who tweeted on Friday, “An enormous thank you to the [Environment Agency] and emergency services who are doing an amazing job with the floods and extreme weather.”
However, an internal Environment Agency memo seen by the ENDS Report revealed in November that budget cuts planned by the government for 2014 would mean job losses for 557 people working on flooding.
Environmental groups have criticised the 15% cut to the Environment Agency’s budget, saying it might hamper Britain’s ability to manage future floods – which were said to have cost the UK alone £600m in 2012.
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said, “With Britain braced for fresh storms, the government must urgently reverse its shortsighted plans to cut hundreds of jobs from the Environment Agency, which is working hard to defend the country from flooding.
“Protecting the nation from the impacts of extreme weather must be one of David Cameron’s New Year’s resolutions – and this must include making tackling climate change a top priority.”
Friends of the Earth had previously criticised the government’s flood insurance scheme, as it said it does not taken into account the effects of climate change on half a million homes.