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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 16:16 GMT
Prescott pledges to learn storm lessons
UK floods
Prescott pledges to takes steps to prevent flooding
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has told the House of Commons that emergency procedures would be reviewed after the storms that hit the UK at the weekend.

Mr Prescott began his official statement on the latest floods to hit Britain with words of sympathy for the families of those who died during the gales.

He also had words of gratitude for the emergency services for their actions during the floods and storms - the worst to hit the UK since 1987.

Mr Prescott said that the Bellwin scheme would remain available to help local authorities to cope with the damage.

John Prescott
Praised emergency services
He also indicated that because of the increasingly severe weather conditions that seemed likely to occur in the future, a more thorough approach to planning was required.

That included discouraging "inappropriate development in flood risk areas".

Mr Prescott also questioned whether it was acceptable that when flooding did occur, that rail and domestic power supply lines should come down.

He said the environment agency would draw up a report on the lessons to be learnt from the floods that happened two weeks ago in East Sussex and the current floods.

Mr Prescott said: "This storm should be a wake-up call for everyone - our infrastructure should be robust enough and our preparations rigorous enough to withstand the kind of weather we have just experienced."

Responding to the statement, Tory shadow environment secretary Sir Archie Norman asked the government to re-examine its plans to develop housing in the south.

Sir Archie said that building the "wrong houses in the wrong places and concreting over the countryside" risked contributing to the danger of flooding.

That was a point that had been addressed by Housing Minister Nick Raynsford during environment questions.

He said: "We expect development to avoid flood plains where there is a risk to properties, that is guidance already in preparation, already in the public domain put out by this government."

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