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New EA chairman sets out scale of flood damage

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More than 600 flood defences have been damaged by a series of storms this winter, the Environment Agency has revealed.

The body said it had carried out 16,000 inspections since the start of December – and identified 660 structures in need of repair.

Storms Desmond and Eva devastated communities in swathes of the UK in December. Fourteen rivers in the North of England recorded their highest ever flows, and 200 gauges recorded their highest water levels. Honister Pass in the Lake District saw a record 341mm of rain in 24 hours.

Storms Frank, Gertrude and Henry have since added to the UK’s weather-related to do list.

Acting Environment Agency chairman Emma Howard Boyd today chaired her first board meeting to set out the recovery effort.

She said: “Our teams have worked tirelessly to repair flood defences and help communities in particular across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire get back on their feet after the terrible flooding we saw over December and January.

“Last week I visited Croston in Lancashire and saw the fantastic work that had been done to repair the flood bank and restore protection to residents in the village. This is the crucial work we are now focusing on to restore protection to those homes and businesses at risk.”

Repair work will be funded in part by the government’s investment in recovery from Storms Eva and Desmond, which amounts to nearly £200M.

Previous Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley resigned in the wake of a media outcry over his time in the Caribbean during flooding in December.

Civil engineers warned in December that the devastation caused by Storm Desmond showed the folly of the government’s spending review strategy of slashing revenue budgets while raising capital spending.

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