The Prime Minister has this evening chaired a meeting of COBR - the government’s emergency committee, after which he said:
I have chaired another COBR meeting this evening to ensure we continue to do everything possible to help communities affected by these storms.
Today, Royal Marine Commandos from Taunton have been deployed in Somerset to fill sandbags and provide relief to the local emergency services, as more bad weather is forecast. The Environment Agency has ordered specialist pumping equipment to clear roads, in addition to the extra pumps we have already sent, and they will keep looking at all options for pumping and dredging. In Dawlish, National Rail is undertaking a full inspection of the railway line and working with Army engineers on options to shore up the damaged section: a regular rail replacement service is now in place.
Across the country another £30 million will be spent on urgent flood defence repairs this year, on top of the £100 million next year which I announced yesterday.
I want to reassure everyone affected by these terrible storms that we will continue to keep up our urgent response and help get them back on the move.
Wednesday 5 February
Speaking after a meeting of COBR - the goverment’s emergency committee - the Prime Minister said:
My sympathy is with everyone affected by the ongoing storms which are causing misery to communities and businesses across the country.
With power outages, more flooding and more bad weather forecast, I have chaired a COBR this afternoon to ensure that everything that can be done to get stricken communities moving is being done: there are no restrictions on help. I have seen the shocking pictures of the destroyed train line in Dawlish and I am determined that while it is out of action, the public get a proper alternative service and a solution is found to fix it, as soon as possible. The government will continue to hold emergency COBR meetings to ensure these problems are sorted out.
In Somerset, the Environment Agency continues to pump 3 million tonnes of water a day off the Levels alongside high velocity pumps provided by the fire and rescue service. But no amount of pumping will solve the current problem completely because the land is so saturated, so dredging will start as soon as the waters have receded enough for it to be safe to do so.
We need a long-term solution, so earlier today I announced a further £100 million to repair and maintain those flood defences which have taken such a battering, while protecting 165,000 homes in recent weeks, in addition to a record £2.4 billion being spent by this government.