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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
PM warns over 'weather extremes'
Gordon Brown meets fire crews
Mr Brown has been visiting some of the worst affected areas
The siting of infrastructure needs to be reviewed in the wake of flooding across England over the past few weeks, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said.

Water and electricity have been hit in Gloucestershire after a water treatment works was flooded and the rising waters threatened an electricity substation.

Mr Brown, in his No 10 press briefing, said climate change meant planning had to presume more extreme weather events.

That included boosting urban drainage systems to cope with heavier downpours.

Floods in Gloucestershire, the worst-affected county, have left thousands of people without a supply of drinking water.

Infrastructure review

Some 40,000 homes have also lost power and England's two biggest rivers, the Severn and the Thames, are threatening to overflow.

Asked whether he was confident everything that could have been done had been done, Mr Brown said: "I think the emergency services have done a great job."

He added: "Obviously like every advanced industrial country we're coming to terms with some of the issues surrounding climate change.

The world is going to have to come to terms, so the scientists are telling us, with more extreme weather events
Hilary Benn
Environment secretary

"It's pretty clear that some of the 19th Century structures we're dealing with - infrastructure and where they were sited - that is something we're going to have to review."

He said: "This has been, if you like, a one in 150 years set of incidents that has taken place in both Yorkshire and Humberside and now in Gloucestershire and the Severn."

He said there were many areas where they would have to "look for the future" at what had to be done - including where infrastructure was located, its drainage and flood defences.

Flash flooding

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the scientific consensus was that the climate was changing, adding: "The world is going to have to come to terms, so the scientists are telling us, with more extreme weather events and that's why we need to anticipate them and try and plan for them."

Mr Brown added: "That's what the review is all about."

Mr Benn later told the Commons during a statement about the flooding that an independent person would oversee the review.

An initial report on the review would be available before the end of year, Mr Benn said, warning that the emergency was "far from over and further flooding is very likely".

Asked about fears that his plans for three million new homes by 2020 would mean building on flood plains and increase flash flooding, he said advice about new building was being "tightened up".

Last week there were no preparations put in place despite early severe weather warnings
Sir Menzies Campbell
Lib Dem leader

Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth said the floods were "not the government's fault" and "we are not interested in playing a blame game".

"They are a humbling reminder of the awesome power of nature.

"What matters is to be quite certain that everything feasible that could be done to respond both to the threat of the flooding and to the flooding events themselves was done, is being done and will continue to be done," he told MPs.

Earlier Mr Brown had flown in by helicopter to some of the worst hit areas of Gloucestershire, where 150,000 homes were initially without water after a treatment works was flooded - it is thought the number will rise to 350,000 within 15 hours.

Parts of Worcestershire were also under 6ft of water and the Army has been helping emergency services provide supplies to people in Upton-upon-Severn, while Warwickshire and Berkshire have also been badly affected and severe warnings remain in place for Oxfordshire.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, who is on a visit to Hull - where about 17,000 homes were damaged by flooding in June - said a lack of planning by the government had led to a "summer of suffering".

He said, "There is no doubt that climate change is going to lead to more extreme weather in this country and the government has a duty to prepare for this and put in place plans to minimise the devastation.

"Yet last week there were no preparations put in place despite early severe weather warnings."

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