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Last Updated: Monday, 20 August 2007, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Government asks EU for flood cash
Rails damaged by floods in Oxfordshire (Pic: Network Rail)
The money could help pay for repairs to infrastructure
The government has formally applied to the European Commission for money to help deal with the floods crisis which hit parts of England.

The government has lodged an application for support under the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for coping with natural disasters.

Flood Recovery Minister John Healey said the total cost of the flood damage was now estimated at 2.7bn.

The likely EUSF donation has been put at between 60m and 125m.

But if the application is approved, it could be a year before any cash is forthcoming.

It is important we continue to work with insurers, local government, industry and other agencies to ensure life gets back to normal as quickly as possible
Floods Minister John Healey

The EUSF is particularly aimed at helping countries cope with the uninsurable costs of natural disasters, such as cleaning up and restoring infrastructure.

The minimum cost of damage has to be above 2.2bn before an application can be considered.

'Back to normal'

Mr Healey said: "This fund was set up specifically to help countries who have experienced extensive damage from natural disasters such as floods.

"If successful we would only receive a proportion of the total costs. That is why it is important we continue to work with insurers, local government, industry and other agencies to ensure life gets back to normal as quickly as possible.

"We know this will not happen overnight, but are firmly committed to working in partnership to achieve this for as long as it takes."

If granted, the cash would have to be spent within 12 months and the UK would have to report back to the EUSF committee on how it is spent.

The Conservatives have welcomed the decision to appeal for European funds, but say Britain should have applied earlier.

Parts of England and Wales were lashed by severe weather in July, with flooding affecting thousands of homes and leaving many without water.

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