'Make fossil fuel companies pay for Yorkshire flood damage,' says Labour leadership hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey

Fossil fuel companies should be made to pay the clean up bill for Yorkshire floods, according to Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 10:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 5:05 pm

Following a visit to Mytholmroyd in the Calder Valley on Monday, which was hit by flooding caused by Storm Ciara, Ms Long-Bailey said the extraction of oil and gas had accelerated climate change, making flooding more frequent.

And therefore companies which profited from those practices should foot the bill for damage caused by floods.

She said: “Fossil fuel executives have known for decades that their profiteering from the extraction of oil and gas would lead here: to dangerously high global temperatures and devastating weather events. To limit climate breakdown, we need a Green Industrial Revolution to rapidly reduce our emissions and transition us to a sustainable energy system.

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Sandbags in place on Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd. Photo: Simon Hulme

“But fossil fuel companies must be made to pay for damage from the impacts they have already locked in.”

Ms Long-Bailey also advocated the creation of a Climate Justice Fund to “support local authorities and affected households”, resourced by a “windfall tax on fossil fuel companies responsible for knowingly heating our planet to dangerous levels.”

She added: “Flooding damage costs £2bn every year in England and Wales, and without deep cuts in emissions that could rise to £21bn after 2050. These costs are currently passed onto all homeowners in the form of higher insurance premiums, while properties built after 2009 and small businesses aren’t protected at all.”

“With a Climate Justice Fund, all households and businesses affected by flooding would be able to access affordable insurance, with the costs borne by the big polluters responsible for devastating climate impacts.”

It comes after Environment Secretary George Eustice earlier defended his Government’s record on flooding investment.

In the Commons he said: "Investment made in recent years has significantly improved our resilience but there is much more to do.

"We are investing £2.6bn in flood defences - over 1,000 flood defences schemes - to better protect 300,000 homes by 2021.

"To put this into context, in the floods of 2007, 55,000 properties were flooded but with similar volumes of water in place this year thankfully far fewer properties have been flooded and flood defence schemes have protected over 90,000 properties in England this winter."

Earlier in the day Downing Street denied that Boris Johnson’s visit to Yorkshire during the November floods was to “win votes” as he was yet to visit flood-hit communities battered by Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara now he held a commanding majority.

The PM’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson was receiving “regular updates” and was “working with ministers to ensure that people received the help that they need”

And he added: “So firstly we are hugely grateful to all those who helped in response from the Environment Agency, engineers, and emergency services out on the ground to the military who stepped in to assist.

“The Government has extensive plans in place to deal with these kinds of extreme weather events, and we are working tirelessly to help everyone affected. The Environment Secretary and his department is rightly leading the response to this ensuring teams who are busy working around the clock have the support and resources they need and it is important not to distract from that ongoing work.”

But after her visit Ms Long-Bailey added: “Boris Johnson couldn’t care less about communities hit by flooding. His government’s annual investment in flood defence and adaptation projects falls £550m short of the level necessary to manage the UK’s risk level.”