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Call to spend more cash on flooding defences

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 26, 2013

Flooding at Exeter Quay last year

Flooding at Exeter Quay last year

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A Conservative MP has urged ministers to spend more cash on flood defences in the Westcountry after households were left "desperate" by repeated storms.

But Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon, was told the Government is already spending £2.3 billion on protecting homes and businesses from floods.

In the last three months alone, more than 1,000 homes in Devon and Cornwall have been hit by flooding at the end of what was one of the wettest years on record. But the Government has slashed the funding for maintaining flood defences in the two counties by 25% – or more than £800,000 – for next year.

During Environment Questions in the House of Commons, Mr Streeter said: "Six communities in my constituency were flooded three times in 2012 – in July, November and December – and people there are naturally desperate about what to do.

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"I realise that there is no money, because of our high-spending predecessors, but can the minister find any extra resources to put into flood defence and prevention schemes to help my constituents cope with what may happen in the future?" In response, Floods Minister Richard Benyon said: "I am glad to inform him that we are spending a lot of money – £2.3 billion of taxpayers' money – on what the Government should be doing, which is building flood defences.

"In addition, we are looking carefully to ensure that we are supporting all the relevant agencies, such as the Environment Agency, to ensure that watercourses are flowing and that we are addressing all the factors that contribute to flooding.

"I entirely understand the desperation that his constituents must feel as a result of repeat flooding events, and we are working hard to deal with those."

The minister also revealed the Government was at an "advanced stage" in its negotiations with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) over the future of flood insurance.

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