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Floods chief: "We have the resources"

Cumbria floods dec 15 2by3

Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan has insisted that the body has the cash it needs to manage flood risk.

Bevan, a former diplomat who took the helm at the agency in November, backed the level of funding it had to tackle increasingly extreme weather.

He was speaking ahead of a visit to Somerset this week, to see work that’s taken place since the devastating floods of two winters ago.

Bevan was in Cumbria last week to see the damage caused by Storm Desmond, which saw flood defences built at a cost of £38M overtopped in Carlisle.

He said: “Whenever an exceptional event happens it’s important to review what happened and how to prepare for the future.

“With a £60M fund to help with recovery in Cumbria, in addition to the £2.3bn the government has committed to protect homes from floods across the country, we have the resources necessary to manage flood risk in England.

“The National Flood Resilience Review and the Cumbria Floods Partnership give the government, the Environment Agency and community groups the forums to review and ensure we are directing our resources to protect people most effectively.”

Civil Engineering Contractors Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner recently suggested more funding may be needed to tackle flooding.

“Cumbria has suffered an unexpectedly large flooding event but that is happening more and more and suggesting a trend that might need to change the way government and indeed society think about flooding,” he told NCE.

“We need a national conversation about how we address flood risk or whether we just accept it. Ways of addressing it would largely focus on increasing defences and increasing the resilience of assets, while also looking at ways to better manage extreme rainfall.

“It is clear that some of the answers may mean a greater call for funding than exists at the moment. As such, part of the discussion should focus on the fairest way to pay for additional work.”

Work undertaken since the Somerset Levels were flooded in 2013/14 includes the dredging of an 8km stretch of the Rivers Parrett and Tone at a cost of £6M, and a £2M upgrade of pumping stations and platforms.

Bevan intends to visit all 16 of the agency’s designated areas in his first 100 days in office, something described by the agency as a “tough task”.

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