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Young rubbishes flood agency calls

Speaking exclusively to NCE on the eve of her departure from the Environment Agency, chief executive Barbara Young has rubbished suggestions that the Agency should be broken up to form a dedicated flooding agency.

Young left her role at the Agency last Friday. She dismissed the view that it would be carved up in her wake once Sir Michael Pitt's review of last summer's floods is published.

"I don’t think that (Pitt) espouses the idea of a single floods agency at all," she told NCE on the eve of her departure.

She added that the Agency was unaware of Pitt's final conclusions but said it was unlikely it would be "anything that is wildly off the radar or that we haven’t already been working with him on".

"When people talk about the need to break up the Agency they talk from a simplistic perspective that says if an agency is only looking at one thing then it has more focus.

"Well actually I don’t think that is true. Big organisations can walk, talk and chew gum at the same time."

Young pointed to the huge amount of work carried out by the Agency in response to last summers floods – 35 new flood defences and 30,000 additional homes protected since last summer plus 50,000 more people signed up to the flood warning system – as evidence of this ability.

"Surface water coordination is by far and away the most important recommendation from Pitt," said Young.

She highlighted the huge challenge of getting responsible stakeholders working together to help reduce the risk.

Read the full interview here.

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