The UK’s flooding crisis has reached a critical point, sparking debates over flood defences and future ways to prevent the problem. Sir James Bevan, the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, told the BBC’s Today show that we have to be “bold” and this could even mean moving communities out of harm’s way. Sir James also warned that the crisis was far from over, offering listeners advice on how to stay safe.
He told Radio 4: “Every flooded home is a personal tragedy and my thoughts are with everyone who is suffering right now.
“Our top priority is obviously protecting lives and property and we’re doing that.
“We have Environment Agency teams working around the clock with emergency services and local authorities to protect and support those local communities affected.
“They will have our support as long as they need it.”
Sir James continued: “It’s important to remember that this event is not over. The risk of severe flooding will remain for several more days, particularly on the Severn.
“So I would encourage everybody to check our flood warnings, to stay safe, don’t drive through flood water, don’t go near swollen rivers and do follow the advice of emergency services.
“What do we do? The big picture is that the climate emergency is bringing higher flood risk.
“The right way to deal with that is good flood defences, protect people against flooding whereever we can (and we mostly can) and making our homes, our infrastructure and our towns more resilient so when flooding does occur, those communities can stay safe and get back to normal quicker.”
When asked if the Government should intervene and declare some areas unavailable for building in the future, the Environment Agency chief said: “I think we have to be realistic.
“Most of the country is a flood plane, most our towns and cities are built on flood planes.
“The population is increasing and we are going to need houses for those people and new developments.”
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Sir James continued: “I don’t think it’d be realistic to say that there’d be no building whatsoever on the flood plane.
“However, there should only be development on the flood plane when there is no realistic alternative.
“Therefore if there is development that is going to take place on the flood plane, we need to ensure that it doesn’t enhance anyone else’s flood risk.
“We need to make sure that that development, those houses, those businesses are designed and built in ways that are resilient to the flooding.
“I think there are people living in places where houses were built that should not have been.”
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