Floods shouldn't be 'political football', argues IEMA

10th February 2014

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  • Central government ,
  • Environment agencies ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Adaptation


Richard Cattan

IEMA has called for cross-party consensus on flood protection following Eric Pickles' criticism of the Environment Agency

Using the floods that are affecting many parts of the UK as a “political football” is unhelpful and should be stopped, according to the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

Today (10 February 2014), Lord Chris Smith, chair of the Environment Agency, defended the regulator’s actions in reacting to the floods arguing that it was bound by Treasury rules on spending. His comments came after the communities secretary told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show that he “apologised unreservedly” for following advice from the agency.

“We made a mistake, there’s no doubt about that. We perhaps relied too much on the Environment Agency’s advice… I’m really sorry we took the advice of what we thought we were dealing with experts,” said Pickles.

Smith reacted by saying his staff knew “100 times more about flood risk management than any politician ever has”.

IEMA is now calling on politicians to work together to ensure the UK is able to cope with the impacts of climate change in the future.

“Cross-party consensus and climate leadership is required to determine the priorities and level of funding needed to provide communities with the protection they need,” states a formal comment from the Institute.

“Treating the environment as a political football is unhelpful – it’s far too important an issue to be kicked around. Building resilience to the challenges of climate change requires government, businesses and society to work together to mitigate impacts and invest in protection.”

With climate projections predicting a shift towards wetter winters and more extreme weather events, and with increasing demand for infrastructure and housing as the population in the UK expands, increasing flood risks mean that government, regulators, business and environment professionals must work together to secure the best outcomes for the country in the long term, argues IEMA.

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