Wakefield MP demands flood spending answers

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said Brexit changes put the countryside, farming and wildlife at risk.
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said Brexit changes put the countryside, farming and wildlife at risk.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh is demanding urgent clarity over exactly how much the Government is planning to spend on improving the country’s resilience to flooding.

In a letter to Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom, the prominent Labour politician also seeks confirmation - at the third time of asking - of whether the flood envoys appointed by the Government to support storm ravaged communities following the Boxing Day storms last winter remain in post.

Robert Goodwill, Conservative MP for Scarborough and Whitby, was appointed as Yorkshire’s Flooding Envoy alongside then Flooding Minister Rory Stewart, who would carry out a similar role in Cumbria and Northumberland. Their brief was to understand the impact of flooding in affected areas and report directly to the Prime Minister.

Mrs Creagh, who penned the letter in her role as chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “After last winter’s floods, the last Government appointed ministerial flood envoys to support local communities dealing with flooding, but despite writing to the Government twice already, we have still had no clarity over whether the flood envoys are in post.”

The confusion around Government flood spending has arisen since the Autumn Statement.

Last month, the Chancellor said £170m would be used for flood defence and resilience measures, while Mrs Leadsom recently announced £15m would also be spent on natural flood management projects. In addition, the National Flood Resilience Review included £12.5m of investment in temporary flood defences.

It comes after the Budget in March pledged an extra £700m for flood defence and resilience schemes.

Mrs Creagh said: “In March the Government increased taxes on insurance premiums by 0.5 per cent to pay for extra flood defences. Taxpayers and communities at risk of flooding will want to know that this money is spent in a way that is cost-effective.”

A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said a response would be sent to Mrs Creagh.

The spokesman added: “We are spending a record £2.5bn on flood defences to better protect an addition 300,000 homes by 2021 - £400m of this will be spent in Yorkshire, benefitting over 68,000 Yorkshire homes and businesses.”