Flood-hit communities could be ABANDONED warns Environment Agency head


Flood-hit communities might have to be abandoned the head of the Environment Agency will say today – as ‘danger to life’ warnings remain in place along the River Severn.

Sir James Bevan will say it would be unrealistic to ban all development on the flood plain, but if there is no alternative any building that goes ahead should not increase the risk of flooding for other people.

He will also warn that in a few places, the scale of coastal erosion or risk of river or sea flooding will become so great that communities may have to move.

His comments will come in a speech at the World Water-Tech Innovation Summit in central London today when he will warn that a twin track approach to flooding is needed to defuse the ‘weather bomb’. 

Sir James will tell the conference: ‘First, we must continue to do what we have been doing for some years now: building and maintaining strong defences to reduce the risk of communities being flooded.

‘But in the face of the climate emergency, we now need a second, parallel, track: making our communities more resilient to flooding so that when it does happen it poses much less risk to people, does much less damage, and life can get back to normal much quicker.

‘The best way to defuse the weather bomb is better protection and stronger resilience. We need both.’

It comes as angry householders and business owners in flood-hit parts of the country last night demanded to know: where is our help and where is the Prime Minister?

Angry householders and business owners in flood-hit parts of the country last night demanded to know: where is our help and where is the Prime Minister? (Pictured: the River Severn in Shrewsbury)

Angry householders and business owners in flood-hit parts of the country last night demanded to know: where is our help and where is the Prime Minister? (Pictured: the River Severn in Shrewsbury)

The Environment Agency said heavy rain in the Welsh mountains was expected to continue over the next 48 hours, causing problems further down the River Severn

The Environment Agency said heavy rain in the Welsh mountains was expected to continue over the next 48 hours, causing problems further down the River Severn

As residents braced themselves for record levels of flooding today, they complained that they had been left to fend for themselves.

It came as the Environment Agency issued two severe flood warnings – meaning there is a risk to life – for the River Severn at Shrewsbury and Ironbridge in Shropshire. A further 109 flood warnings were in place across England last night.

Large parts of Shrewsbury were already underwater, with most access roads closed after more than 400 tonnes of water per second rushed down the river. But the situation is expected to get worse, with the river due to peak today amid further heavy rain.

Meanwhile, heavy snow in the North caused chaos on the roads and led to the closure of schools yesterday, with 2in falling in parts of Yorkshire and the North East before turning to rain that led to localised flooding.

The Environment Agency said heavy rain in the Welsh mountains was expected to continue over the next 48 hours, causing problems further down the River Severn. 

It predicted a prolonged peak at Welshbridge in Shrewsbury of up to 5.5m (18ft) this evening, which would be higher than in 2000 when floods devastated the town. 

It came as the Environment Agency issued two severe flood warnings ¿ meaning there is a risk to life ¿ for the River Severn at Shrewsbury and Ironbridge in Shropshire. A further 109 flood warnings were in place across England last night

It came as the Environment Agency issued two severe flood warnings – meaning there is a risk to life – for the River Severn at Shrewsbury and Ironbridge in Shropshire. A further 109 flood warnings were in place across England last night

Garage owner Mark Edwards surveys the flood damage to his business in Shrewsbury

Garage owner Mark Edwards surveys the flood damage to his business in Shrewsbury

David Pickle, from Shrewbury, was flooded out of his two bedroom flat after the River Severn burst its banks

David Pickle, from Shrewbury, was flooded out of his two bedroom flat after the River Severn burst its banks

In Ironbridge, the Severn could go over the top of flood defences this morning, the local council warned.

Telford and Wrekin Council and West Mercia Police urged residents directly affected to get out of their homes and take up the council’s offer of accommodation.

Business owners in Shrewsbury criticised the local council and Environment Agency over a lack of help and information. Mike Evans, of Evans Carpets, said he had been told that the council had run out of sandbags.

‘We’ve had nothing – no help or assistance whatsoever. We haven’t seen anyone from the council or the Environment Agency,’ he said. 

Mark Davies, 59, who runs Darwin’s Townhouse B&B in Shrewsbury, said he had suffered thousands of pounds of damage and had been unable to obtain insurance.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s absence in the crisis, he said: ‘Boris Johnson should make some sort of nod to acknowledge all the devastation.’ 

No 10 yesterday defended Mr Johnson’s absence from flooded areas, saying it was important not to ‘distract’ attention from the relief effort, and that Environment Secretary George Eustice was ‘rightly’ leading the Government’s response.

But David Bickle, 57, whose ground-floor flat in Shrewsbury was under a foot of water last night, criticised the Prime Minister’s excuses, saying: ‘What relief effort? There is no one helping us for him to disturb.’

Pictured: Shrewsbury accountants Benn Pryce and simon Cook who now have a flooded offices

Pictured: Shrewsbury accountants Benn Pryce and simon Cook who now have a flooded offices

Sir James Bevan, head of the Environment Agency, will warn in a speech today that houses should not be built on flood plains unless there is 'no real alternative' (Pictured: A cyclist in Shrewsbury)

Sir James Bevan, head of the Environment Agency, will warn in a speech today that houses should not be built on flood plains unless there is ‘no real alternative’ (Pictured: A cyclist in Shrewsbury) 

Shropshire Council insisted last night that it has not run out of sandbags. A spokesman said: ‘Any residents or businesses requiring sandbags are asked to contact the council and we will supply them.’

Sir James Bevan, head of the Environment Agency, will warn in a speech today that houses should not be built on flood plains unless there is ‘no real alternative’. But he will add that with the risk of flooding increasing, communities also need to be ‘more resilient’.

  • The body of a 13-year-old boy was found yesterday in the River Wear near Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Police said his death was not being treated as suspicious.

B&B was hit after I was told nobody would insure me 

By Miles Dilworth, Money Mail Reporter 

Pictured: Mark Davies, who runs Darwin's Townhouse B&B

Pictured: Mark Davies, who runs Darwin’s Townhouse B&B

A B&B owner has spoken of his devastation over losing around £40,000 in damages and loss of takings after his business was flooded twice in a week.

In a bitter blow, Mark Davies, who runs Darwin’s Townhouse B&B in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, had been told he could no longer get insurance flood cover just 12 days before the River Severn burst its banks last Tuesday.

Mr Davies, 59, said his broker had spoken to several insurance providers before the floods hit – but not a single one was willing to insure his business against flood damage. He said it would be months before his B&B is fully operational again following further flooding yesterday.

‘It’s been a double whammy,’ he said. ‘No one is touching this any more. It’s a crying shame really when you think of some of the businesses around here and the losses that could kill them.’

The entire basement of his guesthouse has been flooded, wrecking stores of linen and food, while ten of the 20 rooms at his B&B have been put out of action.

Mr Davies had been told he could no longer get insurance flood cover just 12 days before the River Severn burst its banks last Tuesday

Mr Davies had been told he could no longer get insurance flood cover just 12 days before the River Severn burst its banks last Tuesday 

When asked what his message to the Prime Minister would be, he said: ‘Come down and say hello.

‘I would throw down that gauntlet. What are you going to do? I have had to pay a phenomenal amount in tax and rates and yet I’m seeing very little in return. 

‘My personal feeling on Boris Johnson is he should make some sort of nod to acknowledge all the devastation across the country that he is responsible for,’ he said.



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