LARGE AREAS of Yorkshire continue to be at risk from flooding because local councils refuse to pay for essential flood defence repairs, the Environment Agency said this week.
An Agency survey has shown that most defences in the region urgently need repairing following last autumn's flooding. But councils have refused to pay the Agency the money it needs to carry out the work.
'The people of Yorkshire are at increased risk, ' warned an Agency spokesman, adding that funding for improving flood warning systems had also been refused.
Another spokesman added: 'We're very disappointed. There's a lot of flood defences that need reinforcing and revamping .'
Councils pay yearly levies to the Agency for local flood defence work. Those in Yorkshire decided last week that they would increase their levy by 10% and not the 37% the Agency recommended.
This leaves the Agency with a £5M shortfall on its original £23M investment plan. As a result it is allocating money to highest risk areas first, prioritising Selby and Malton, among the worst hit areas in the autumn.
A spokesman for Yorkshire Regional Assembly defended the councils' decision, however.
'We are not convinced that the EA has really provided us with a strategic business plan for the amount they want to invest in flood defences, ' he said.