The functions of the agency are stated to be:
- regulation of major industry
- flood and coastal risk management
- water quality and resources
- waste regulation
- climate change
- contaminated land
- conservation and ecology
- act to reduce climate change and its consequences
- protect and improve water, land and air by tackling pollution
- work with people and communities to create better places
- work with businesses and other organisations to use resources wisely
- be the best we can
POLICY (and detail) for Reducing the threats of flooding and coastal change are set out on the Gov.UK website where it is noted that sea levels will rise and there will be more intensive rain. It is also stated that a sum of £2 billion was allocated for the period April 2011 to March 2015 to address flooding risks. AS the Gov.UK website notes:
"The latest climate projections indicate that sea levels will rise, and there will be increasingly severe and frequent rainstorms. This means the risk of floods will increase."
It is the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) which is responsible for national emergency planning for flooding. To make sure all relevant agencies and organisations are properly prepared to deal with flooding, Defra:
- sets a national framework which outlines how local and national agencies should plan for and respond to flooding
- provides a framework to co-ordinate flood rescue operations
- co-ordinates all policy and support for local agencies
The Somerset levels could be papered over with the law relating to flood and water management including the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (not yet fully implemented) and the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 (which implement Floods Directive (Directive 2007/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the assessment and management of flood risks). All the planning and law in the world will not prevent or reduce the impact of water unless the proper actions are physically taken and it perhaps worth noting that the risk of flooding in Somerset is not new as the paragraph on Flooding in this Wikipedia Entry shows.
The Pitt Review looked at flooding back in 2007 with a view to learning lessons. It was not until January 2012 that the government published its Final Report on implementation of the Pitt Review.
The Prime Minister is facing criticism over flood defence cash and it has been claimed that massive cuts risk England's ability to deal with floods (The Guardian 7th January 2014). Nevertheless, in the face of a mountain water of "biblical proportions", Ministers have sought to defend the cuts. Unsurprisingly, official claims relating to "no money" are not received well by those with inundated homes who are suffering from this and there have been calls for the overseas aid budget to be cut to provide more funding for necessary work at home. Certainly, some re-appraisal of expenditure seems to be needed.
The Environment Agency makes for an easy scapegoat in all of this. Whether that is deserved is debatable. I do not intend to try to analyse "fault" here but it is likely that much more than the Agency ought to be in the public's firing line.
|Somerset levels from Glastonbury|
Floods on the Somerset Levels - a sad tale of ignorance and neglect
Climate Change Explained
Guardian 9th February - Eric Pickles apologises over floods and blames Environment Ageny advice
Telegraph 11th February - UK Flooding - Home Owners knew the risk, says Environment Agency Chairman
Belfast Telegraph 11th February - Is this Owen Paterson's Waterloo?
2007 United Kingdom Floods