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Two-thirds slam Government's handling of winter floods - poll

Published 28/01/2016

Some 61% said the Government is not spending enough on flood defences in Britain
Some 61% said the Government is not spending enough on flood defences in Britain

The majority of people are critical of the Government's handling of the floods this winter and want ministers to do more to prevent future flooding, a survey has found.

Almost two-thirds (61%) thought the Government had handled the flooding very or fairly badly - including two-fifths (40%) of Conservative voters quizzed in the poll for Greenpeace.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) want ministers to do more to prevent future flooding in at-risk areas, the survey by YouGov revealed.

And 61% of the 1,694 people quizzed say the Government is not spending enough on flood defences in Britain, agreeing more should be spent, even if it means less cash for other areas.

The findings were released as campaigners and people from flood-hit areas set about installing an artwork outside Parliament featuring 500 pairs of wellies which each carry a message from those affected by the recent flooding.

The messages tell stories of parents carrying their children out of flooded buildings, older people trapped in their homes and people losing their jobs.

A petition with almost 100,000 signatures is being handed into Downing Street, calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to increase funding for flood defences and speed up the switch to clean power to tackle climate change which is driving more extreme weather .

Monica Gripaios is one of those whose stories are being portrayed by the wellies artwork after her village, Hovingham, North Yorkshire, was hit by floods over Christmas.

She said: "We were away for Christmas but rushed back home when we spotted the flood warnings.

"W hat we saw was really scary - many roads were under water, the fields looked like enormous lakes, and the stream by our house was a raging torrent.

"It's clear that with climate change this problem is just going to get worse. Our politicians need to start taking this seriously."

Greenpeace welcomed the Government's plans for a national flood resilience review to look at how Britain could boost its defences against future flooding.

But the green group also called for concrete financial commitments on flood protection, a review of land management and housing policies and the roll-out of clean energy schemes to curb the carbon emissions causing climate change.

Greenpeace UK climate campaigner Hannah Martin said ministers had disregarded scientists' warnings that climate change would drive up flood risk across the country.

"These testimonies show flood-hit people are tired of ministers springing into action only when disaster strikes.

"The vast majority of the UK public want them to do more about preventing future floods.

"Unless we cut our dependence on the fossil fuels that are driving more extreme weather, we'll keep pumping water out of a leaky ship whilst punching new holes in the hull," she said.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Department (Defra) said the Government's fast, targeted response to record-breaking levels of rain protected 22,000 properties from flooding.

"The Environment Agency worked round the clock keeping water ways clear, with 6,000 members of staff on hand and 85% of the country's temporary flood barriers, 40 pumps and 1,500 sand bags deployed across affected areas.

"We also mobilised 600 military personnel in record time to support the work of the emergency services and local authorities.

"Our investment in recovery from the floods stand at nearly £200 million as we help communities get back on their feet. Recovery grants were paid into people's bank accounts within days."

And she said: "Over the next six years we will invest £2.3 billion in protecting over 300,000 homes. Our ongoing national floods resilience review is looking at our defences and modelling, exploring new ways of tackling these types of floods."

Record-breaking rain and stormy weather has battered parts of the UK since early December, with Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire particularly badly hit, leaving some 16,000 properties flooded in England.

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