Statement on Government moves to apply for EU Emergency Funding

February 18, 2014 7:17 PM

Sir Graham Watson, Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West, has issued the following statement below after government sources announce that they are considering an application for EU emergency funding.

Watson first called for the government to apply for funding under the EU Solidarity Fund on 9th January and has received over 1,000 signatures to his online petition as well as support from the Passion for Somerset business group. He has also met with the European Commissioner in charge of the fund who would welcome an application from the UK.

Commenting, Sir Graham said:

"I am very pleased to see that the government are now actively seeking this funding which can only enhance the money already committed by the government to deal with the flooding. I have been actively lobbying ministers on behalf of residents and businesses not only on the Somerset levels but right across the South West and I am pleased that our pressure is now working.

"British taxpayers pay into this fund. We should be able to draw down from that - Germany and the Czech Republic did last year when they had terrible flooding on the River Elbe.

"As the waters recede, we must also come together and find a solution to ensure the tragic scenes we see on the Somerset levels and in Gloucestershire do not happen again. We need a long term water management strategy. Funding can be sought from the European Investment Bank who offer low interest, long term loans to councils and organisations. With this money we could reduce the risk of flooding for the future."

"This isn't just about flood defences. All the science tells us that this is the beginning of a new era of ever more extreme weather, which includes heavy rainfall. In the long-term, the only way we can protect my constituents in the South West and others from worse weather to come is by getting the world off fossil fuels and switching to greener sources of energy. That's part of why I devote so much time to promoting the transition to renewable energy around the world. Frankly, those politicians who continue to claim that climate change isn't happening are looking a little silly right now. These never-ending storms and floods are not normal."