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Review call over more cut flood protection staff

11:17 05 January 2014

Waveney MP Peter Aldous.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous.

Archant © 2012

The government could be “cutting off its nose to spite its face” if it allows hundreds of Environment Agency (EA) staff be cut following severe flooding across Norfolk, Suffolk and the rest of the UK, a Conservative MP has said.

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Police place sandbags in the Sailorstown area of Belfast city centre. High tides and strong winds have caused flooding in some coastal areas of Northern Ireland but the tide peaked without major flooding in Belfast. The emergency services had warned of a possible tidal surge hitting the city and police built walls of sandbags in parts of central and east Belfast  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday January 3, 2014. See PA story WEATHER Flood Ulster. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA WirePolice place sandbags in the Sailorstown area of Belfast city centre. High tides and strong winds have caused flooding in some coastal areas of Northern Ireland but the tide peaked without major flooding in Belfast. The emergency services had warned of a possible tidal surge hitting the city and police built walls of sandbags in parts of central and east Belfast PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday January 3, 2014. See PA story WEATHER Flood Ulster. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Lowestoft MP Peter Aldous called for plans to cut the workforce from 11,250 in March to 9,700 by October to be put on hold, and a review to take place, in the wake of the storm surges which have caused millions of pounds of flood damage.

He said his government needed to be sure its decision to cut the budget of the body responsible for flood protection had been made on the right basis.

Labour politicians have called for more resources after EA chief executive Paul Leinster admitted risk maintenance “will be (further) impacted”.

He told environmental policy magazine The ENDS Report that work on mapping, modelling and new developments in flood warning “will also have to be resized”. “And we’re looking at a proportionate reduction in the number of people in flood risk management,” he added.

But Great Yarmouth MP and communities minister Brandon Lewis said the EA was having to make savings like other government departments, and that he had been assured front-line staff would be protected, with £28m going towards flood defences in the town. Environment secretary Owen Paterson also insisted the EA was seeking to protect front-line services.

But Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer, said the public needed to know that job losses on the scale planned would directly impact the EA’s flood risk management and flood defence operations teams.

North Norfolk prospective Labour candidate Denise Burke said it “beggared belief” that when prime minister David Cameron was travelling to flood-hit communities saying more needed to be done, the Environment Agency could cut staff. An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We will ensure that we retain the Environment Agency’s incident resilience.”

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9 comments

  • This 'review' just shows how 'out of touch' this so called government is !, all their decisions are based on trying to saving money !, 'short termism' !, it's no wonder 'bonny' Scotland wants to leave the union and govern itself !!, for the benefit of ALL it's people !

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    freedomf

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

  • a goverment who is quite willing to carry on borrowing billions for foreign aid and immigration yet when the hard pressed taxpayers want something back they claim the pot is empty

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    milecross

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

  • dear Mr. Paterson Shame on you in COBRA for playing tiddlywinks, why else would a debate on flooding and sea protection on the 19th. December attract less than ten MP.s? Our representative’s saw it fit to party with their schmoozing lobbyists, but failed to see that the realm is lost to the sea and 13.000 had their christmas ruined in one way or other. These warmongering urchins see nowt wrong with spending billions on laying waste to foreign lands, forever changing young soldiers hopes and life’s, but could not care less for their homecounties or loss of land, house and life’s. “The current policy of managed retreat does not serve us well, Mr. Paterson, Britain has no coastal or flood protection policies, sea protection is permissive and consequetive Governments have balked at defending the realm here, at home. So what is COBRA gonna do about it? order six tonnes of sticky plasters? Should a Government enpower insurance companies, who have a vested interest in keeping members overall contributions down, to build and run tidal energy and sea defences, with other companies, preferably rare breed mutuals, dealing with the inland flooding issues, drain and sewer expansion, new reservoirs and municipal energy schemes? Flooding and sea defences are increasingly making an impact on many lifes in this country, exacerbated by 247, and for 365 day per year, dredging close to shore, undertaken by the Crown estate, and by a sinking eastern seaboard. This geological fact should make for easy prioritisation of sea defences. We can’t afford not to buy time, the other option which could see sea defences married with energy schemes, be they tidal, wind or lagoons. Further, County councils from Essex to Yorkshire, should refrain from selling lands in their portfolio’s, because it will be needed for re-housing those who lost their homes to the sea within the next 50-100 years. !5 th. of our fresh food supplies are grown in the Fenlands (£6billionannum), secured only by some aging dykes and sleucegates, all around the Wash estuary. Modern dykes are built different and much faster, without much extra traffic or interuption to locals, a lock system provides access to fishermen and the few ships (150year) that call on Boston and Kings Lynn. A tidal energy scheme permitting the Wash to ebb and flood, as it does now, but generate energy, would make two nuclear power stations obsolete and guarantee an adequate return for the outlay of whoever built it. It would also provide a strom surge barrier safeguarding the Fenlands beyond. Obviously another priority. Just one example of buying time, putting us in control, not the increasingly chaotic weather patterns. I have not even calculated how many jobs this will create, short and longterm, andor how many less Chinese we will have to employ here building our new PWR reactors.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

  • You really couldn't make this stuff up! A ship of fools!

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    marty r

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

  • Why doesn't the EDP have the balls to ask Peter why he voted for the cuts if he disagrees now? Or how about Norm? He's not saying much now but he was praising the EA and even demanded faster action last month -- when he'd voted to cut them!

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    JO

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

  • Less than ten MP's attended the debate on the 19th. December, and COBRA is playing tiddlywinks, nobody gives a hoot about protecting the eastern seaboard or inland towns, all we get is the insurance withdrawn, left to rot. If party politicians think this is not an important issue, that over 175.000 people are getting flooded regularly, and that their ignorance shown towards loosing land they could protect for some time, will not register with voters, I can assure them that frequent repetition of these floods and damage to the seashores, as well as your inaction, will damage that last little bit of reputation you have left.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

  • Lowestoft urgently needs flood protection, there is a perfectly good workable scheme that not only will give Lowestoft flood protection but start the regeneration of Lowestoft that is so urgently needed, I have been talking to Peter Aldous for two years and achieved very little. Lowestoft urgently needs flood protection we need the Council and all officials to get behind the plan, if this happens the plan can go forward and Lowestoft can adequately be protected. Please support the barrage plan.

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    Peter Colby

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

  • It's not about numbers, it's about the efficiency of those employed by the EA. Funded by Defra they do what the government department want them to do not what the public expects they are doing. Why do they not only turn a blind eye to pollution breaches from incinerators but cover up the incidents that do occur and can only be discovered with FOI requests? Because they don't want incinerators given a bad name, same with the Health Protection Agency, they don't protect the people they cover up dangers. Read Alan Dalton’s 2001 report to Michael Meacher the Environment Secretary “Just Who Does the Environment Agency Protect?”

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    Honest John

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • "he had been assured front-line staff would be protected". Now where have I heard that promise before? Oh yes, the NHS of course! If anyone still believes any of the "promises" or "pledges" (Nick Clegg, Uni Fees) that come from this government, then they are indeed living in cloud-cuckoo land!

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    Dictate

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

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