Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:14 pm on 4th March 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 1:14 pm, 4th March 2020

My right hon. Friend makes an important point. The Environment Agency is a statutory consultee on all planning applications.

This is a live incident, so I urge vigilance as we monitor the situation and move into a recovery phase. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of the Environment Agency, local authorities and emergency services, including the fire brigade, which has been engaged extensively, the paramedics and the many voluntary groups that have played a role and, of course, local TV and radio, which have played their part—[Interruption.] And the BBC, which is a great part of local TV and radio.

I have been in close contact with the Environment Agency every single day. More than 1,000 of its staff have been deployed across the country every day, putting up temporary barriers, clearing rivers of debris—a continuing role for the EA—and helping with evacuations where necessary. They have been deployed alongside around 80 military personnel who stepped in to assist in certain circumstances. Wales has also seen significant impacts, with more than 1,000 properties flooded. The EA remains in close contact with the Welsh Government, who are offering aid and support it might need to respond to their incidents. Some Members have expressed concern about the stability of some coal tips. My colleague, the Secretary State for Wales, has been in dialogue with the Welsh Government about this and, following that, we directed the national Coal Authority to conduct an urgent assessment of those tips where there were concerns.