Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:59 pm on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 12:59 pm, 4th March 2020

I beg to move,

That this House
notes the damage caused by Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge and expresses thanks to workers from the Environment Agency, emergency services, local councils and volunteers;
and calls for Ministers to set up an independent review into the floods, including the Government’s response, the adequacy of the funding provided for flood defences and prevention, difficulties facing homes and businesses with getting insurance and what lessons need to be learnt in light of the climate emergency and the increased likelihood of flooding in the future.

It is a pleasure to move this motion on flooding on behalf of Her Majesty’s Opposition. Flooding has devastated our communities after three successive storms—Ciara, Dennis and Jorge—each compounding and deepening the damage caused by the storm that preceded it. I start by paying my respects to those who lost their lives as a result of these storms. I also thank all those involved in mitigating and fighting the floods: our fire and rescue service, police, local councils, the Environment Agency, and all who have helped to protect homes and businesses, rescue people and animals from rising flood waters, and reinforce flood defences. The motion thanks them for their service.

The motion also pays tribute to the work of the BBC in keeping communities informed about flooding incidents, diversions and emergency measures. BBC local radio, in particular, but BBC Online as well, have been invaluable lifelines to those communities under water. I hope the Secretary of State will add his voice to mine in thanking them when he gets to his feet.

It would be very easy to dismiss the recent flooding as a freak accident, an act of God, and leave it at that, but we need to take a difficult step and recognise that more could have been done. As the climate crisis produces more severe weather more often, we will be having more flooding more often, so we need to learn the lessons.