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Government must not ‘shrug their shoulders’ at flood defences, Labour warns

THE government must not “shrug their shoulders” as homes are flooded by Storm Dennis, Labour has warned.

Shadow environment minister Luke Pollard said on Saturday that the government must admit that it needs to be more proactive in tackling the kind of flooding caused by the storm, which ravaged the country this weekend.

He also said that the government must develop new strategies for dealing with the growing problems of extreme weather.

Mr Pollard said: “As the climate crisis deepens, extreme weather will become more frequent and severe.

“That is why Labour is calling on ministers to recognise that they are not doing enough to fund flood protections, especially for communities that have repeatedly been flooded.

“It is simply not good enough for ministers to shrug their shoulders as homes are flooded again. We need a new strategy to protect homes, working with communities that are underwater.

“Austerity doesn’t protect homes and businesses and that’s why we need a properly funded plan to prevent flooding — and fast.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said that the government intends to allocate £4 billion into flood defence funds over the next six years.

By 5pm on Sunday there were 271 flood warnings for England, with four severe ones, and authorities urged people to take “immediate action” to protect themselves.

Police in Wales have declared a major incident after flooding and landslides caused by the storm led to severe disruption.

In Monmouthshire and Neath, hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes and an amber warning for rain was in place across Wales until 3pm on Sunday.

Other parts of the coastline were hit by winds which reached 90mph, while huge flooding has taken place across south-west England.

Scores of flights were cancelled across the country, with Easyjet cancelling 234 flights on Saturday alone.

Along Scotland and the north-west of England, train services were cancelled after railway tracks became flooded or blocked by fallen trees.

Ferry services out of Plymouth and Poole were also cancelled.

At the time of going to press, it was believed that three people had died in the storm over the weekend.

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