‘Time for change on floods’ - MPs

The Kirkstall Road area of Leeds was badly damaged by the winter floods
The Kirkstall Road area of Leeds was badly damaged by the winter floods
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A RADICAL overhaul of the way flood risk is managed is needed in the wake of the devastation suffered in Leeds last winter, MPs said today.

A new report calls for the Environment Agency to be stripped of its role managing rivers and flood defences.

MPs propose the appointment of a National Floods Commissioner overseeing the managing of flood risk alongside the creation of a new English Rivers and Coastal Authority.

The report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of MPs argues the move would streamline the way coastal and river flood defences are managed.

The committee’s call for Government to help small businesses access affordable insurace was welcomed by Rachel Reeves, MP for Leeds West where a large number of firms suffered damage when flooding struck on Boxing Day.

She said: “It is up to the Government to take urgent action to prevent a recurrence of last year’s devastating floods.

“Businesses and households face the intolerable situation of a winter of uncertainty, not knowing whether they will again be forced to endure a fresh set of floods.”

The committee suggests measures such as tree planting and upstream water storage should be used to reduce flood risk.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “As many residents and businesses in Leeds know to their cost, the Government’s current approach to flood risk management is wholly inadequate. I welcome the select committee’s report as it recommends a whole catchment area similar to the approach now being developed for the River Aire, which could include the use of extensive tree planting and natural flood storage to provide flood protection.”