MEP calls for financial response from EU over floods

January 14, 2014 5:32 PM

Sir Graham Watson, Lib Dem MEP for the South West, has taken his battle to secure EU solidarity funding for the recent floods to the European Parliament chamber.

Speaking in the European Parliament, Watson accused the UK Environment Agency of 'Ganderflanking'* over the response to persistent flooding over the past few years with a lack of action taken to dredge rivers, including on the Somerset levels.

The MEP also reiterated his calls for flood management powers to be devolved from the Environment Agency down to local drainage boards, made up of local farmers, businesses and experts.

In his speech Graham said:

"I am working with my constituents to secure help from the Solidarity fund for the costs of the clean-up and urgent investment in water management schemes."

Watson wrote to the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Flooding Minister Brandon Lewis last week, calling on the government to apply urgently for EU solidarity funding. Such funding is accessible to governments to use for repairs and rebuilding in the event of a natural disaster.

The Euro-MP is also calling on councils and Local Economic Partnerships to look into a loan by the European Investment Bank that could be used for water management projects across the west.

After the speech, Graham commented further:

"This is a 'once in a hundred year event' that has happened two years running. It's time to show the people most affected that their government - be it at local, national or European level - will listen and not stand idly by.

"The growing unpredictability of the weather patterns is an early sign that with the onset of man-made climate change, such weather will become harder, not easier to predict and more, not less severe in its impact".