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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Overhaul of flood defences urged
Woman in Hull
Some residents may have to wait months for house repairs
Flood defences need to be overhauled to deal with the impact of climate change, experts and politicians have warned.

The Environment Agency wants a 25-year plan aimed at coping with the kind of flooding seen in England in late June.

Lib Dem environment spokesman Chris Huhne said the Midlands and Yorkshire were "largely unprepared" for an "almost monsoon" level of rainfall.

Ministers have met local councils to discuss how to spend the 14m relief package announced by PM Gordon Brown.

In the House of Commons, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears hailed the "brave men and women" of the emergency services who had assisted in the relief effort.

She said: "What communities have told me is that they want to get back to normal as quickly as possible."

The floods hit 31,200 homes and 7,000 businesses, said Ms Blears, mainly in the Midlands and northern England.

Her Conservative shadow, Eric Pickles, called for a review of the way cash assistance is provided to councils faced with emergency spending.

Meanwhile, forecasters are predicting more showers over the next few days for parts of Yorkshire - although more flooding is not expected.

About 500 Environment Agency staff are still monitoring water levels in the worst-affected areas, near Doncaster and Hull.

More protection

Environment Agency chief Barbara Young said such flooding events - where torrential rain causes a deluge of surface water - were likely to become more frequent.

The drainage system simply couldn't cope
Chris Huhne
Liberal Democrats

She said planning needed to take climate change into account and that piecemeal planning must be avoided.

"As an agency, we've got to improve the standard of protection we've got for many properties.

"But local authorities, water companies and the developers need to have a co-ordinated process for 25-year planning for surface water flooding."

Overloaded drainage

Mr Huhne, who has visited the worst-affected areas of Hull, said the weather was causing a "new type of flooding".

"In the past we've been prepared for floods from rivers overflowing and floods from coastal and tidal surges," he said.

"This was an enormous amount of rain - four inches of rain in one day - almost monsoon quality. The drainage system simply couldn't cope."

He called on the privatised water companies to play a bigger part in assessing the risk of flooding.

Last week, Mr Brown announced the relief package, saying the 14m would help get people "back on their feet as quickly as possible".

The insurance industry estimates that claims will total 1.5bn.

Many homeowners are facing a wait of months before their houses are habitable.


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