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We Ignore the Risk of Flooding at our Peril

It is a fact our climate is changing and Britain is now a country at risk of flooding and we cannot bury our head in the sand and hope that it will all just go away. The extreme levels of rainfall that Burnley and Padiham have experienced in recent weeks may well turn out to be a regular feature of local life and we must plan accordingly. We cannot sit back and think that sand bags are good enough. Of course all future planning decisions must ensure that building does not take place of flood plains but the Government has a responsibility to do far more. Quite frankly the current Government’s commitment to this issue has been abysmal.  In 2010, under the Coalition, the Chairman of the Government’s Environment Agency announced that funding for flood defences would be cut by 27% and figures obtained under freedom of information rules revealed that  in fact between 2012 and 2014 annual spending on this was reduced from £29.1 million to £17.2 million. In March 2014 the Met. Office warned of increased of extreme rainfall across the UK and in November of the same year the National Audit Office issued a damning report that demonstrated that: the risk of flooding was rising as a result of government funding cuts. Still the Government refused to listen and declared as recently as November 2015 that flood defence funding would be cut further.  The National Audit Office is absolutely clear that it is simply not true when David Cameron says that he is spending more than ever on flood defences. Funding has been significantly reduced in all areas except London and the South East. Ad hoc emergency funding and one off compensation payments are a poor substitute for sustained maintenance and development of flood defences. While this Government has refused to listen homes have been devastated and businesses wiped out. This must not be allowed to happen again.

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