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Environment watchdog 'failed to meet targets'


ENVIRONMENT AGENCY chief executive Barbara Young was last week criticised over her organisation's record on meeting its own targets.

Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman Edward Leigh accused Young of breaking promises made to the committee.

Only 57% of all flood risk assets had met their target condition by March this year, falling short of the Agency's aim to have 63% in an optimum state of repair, according to a National Audit Office report published last month.

But Young defended the Environment Agency's record and said that it had to make hard choices between building new defences for unprotected communities and maintaining existing defences.

Young said the Agency would need an extra £150M a year just to clear the backlog of poorly maintained ood defences.

Committee chair and Conservative MP Leigh said Young had manifestly failed to deliver promises made to the committee in previous meetings. He said that given the flood damage recently caused to thousands of properties, she should consider her position.

Young blamed the failures on funding constraints. 'We juggle day in day out and make very hard choices between maintenance and new schemes for communities that have no defences, ' she said.

She added that the Agency's ood risk management strategy was working and that the current oods were the result of extreme rainfall causing overtopping of riverbanks and street drainage, rather than due to the failure of flood defences.

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