Environment Agency bosses to be grilled by MPs over flooding

Early morning sun rises over flood water near Burrowbridge, Somerset. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire.
Early morning sun rises over flood water near Burrowbridge, Somerset. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire.
1
Have your say

Environment Agency chiefs are to be quizzed by MPs about recent flooding as parts of the UK face the continued risk of heavy rain.

Chairman Sir Philip Dilley, who faced criticism for holidaying in Barbados during the recent storms, will join chief executive Sir James Bevan and deputy chief executive David Rooke before the parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Early morning sun rises over flood water near Burrowbridge, Somerset. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire.

Early morning sun rises over flood water near Burrowbridge, Somerset. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire.

MPs on the committee will also hear evidence from local representatives from Cumbria, parts of which have been badly hit by repeated flooding, as a series of storms and heavy bands of rain swept across the UK.

Yesterday, Environment Secretary Liz Truss told MPs around 16,000 houses in England were flooded when storms Desmond and Eva hit. She added that more than 20,000 properties were protected by flood defences.

December ended up as the wettest month in records stretching back more than a hundred years for the UK, with almost double the normal amount of rainfall falling nationwide, causing flooding to homes and businesses and washing away cars, roads and bridges.

And there is still no let up for some parts of the country, with more warnings of heavy rain for Northern Ireland, the north east and south-east of England and parts of Scotland today.

Sunlight is reflected in flood water near Burrowbridge, Somerset. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire.

Sunlight is reflected in flood water near Burrowbridge, Somerset. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire.

Falling on already saturated ground, the rain could cause more floods and disruption, compounding the misery for flood-affected communities.

The flooding has prompted renewed debate over funding for flood defences, the response by officials and the growing risk of extreme weather in the face of climate change.

In the latest flooding, more than 20 school children had to be rescued after their bus became stranded and began to fill with water when the driver allegedly went through a "road closed" sign just north of York.

Parts of the River Wear in Durham city centre were lapping over the tops of the banks onto the paths.

The Environment Agency had more than two dozen flood warnings in place across England and more than a hundred flood alerts, while the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) also had a number of flood warnings in force.