YEP Says: Defenceless – Defra’s dithering over flood report

DECEMBER 2015: Flooding in Kirkstall.
DECEMBER 2015: Flooding in Kirkstall.
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IT was inevitable that the political upheaval at Westminster would leave decision-making in a state of flux. Yet this does not excuse the delays to the Flood Resilience Review. Commissioned after Leeds, and the North, were submerged by floodwater, its objective could not be more important – to ensure communities are better prepared this winter.

Originally due to be published by Defra in the “summer”, July came and went. It was then hoped that the key findings would see the light of day in August – but this has proved to be optimistic. Now Defra is hinting at a publication date in September, a month usually dominated by the party conferences.

That Defra officials still regard late September as “summer” illustrates a lack of urgency indicative of the Government’s mishandling of the whole flooding crisis. Policy-makers do not have time on their side. The longer the delay, the less likelihood of local authorities being able to put in place basic contingencies for the upcoming winter.

The consequence? Even higher repair bills, more homes and businesses left without affordable insurance and a rising tide of public anger. Though Theresa May has made clear that Brexit is her top priority, there’s no justification for the Government dragging its feet on day-to-day challenges, like under-investment in flood defences, which existed long before Britain voted to leave the EU.

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