Statement from Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss on flooding in the north of England
This news item is not being updated. Read Winter flooding 2015: community support for current information.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
These are extremely difficult days for thousands of families, as heavy rainfall on saturated ground has caused record river levels and widespread flooding in the north of England. My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected and I want to assure them that the government is doing everything possible to help.
Yesterday, I saw for myself the impact this flooding has had on homes and businesses in Leeds, York, and Whalley in Lancashire. I saw the fantastic community spirit and resilience those affected, as well as the tireless work over Christmas of the emergency services, military and Environment Agency staff to protect properties and reduce the impact of the floodwaters.
Flood defences have been pushed to their limit and in some cases overwhelmed as rivers have hit record levels - in Lancashire every single river was at a record high. In Yorkshire we have seen some rivers a metre higher than they have ever been seen before.
Urgent repairs are planned to the Foss barrier in York this morning with parts being airlifted onto the site to carry out repairs to the pumps.
We continue to ensure every necessary support is made available. Yesterday, the Prime Minister chaired a Cobr meeting which agreed to boost the number of troops currently deployed from 300 to 500 with a further 1,000 on standby.
The meeting also agreed to give homes and businesses damaged by flooding access to the same package of support already announced for those affected earlier this month by Storm Desmond to help get them back on their feet.
We are already spending £2.3 billion over the next six years to better protect 300,000 homes from flooding, but in light of recent events we need to be sure we have the very best possible plans in place for flood prevention and protection across the whole country. That is why we have announced a National Flood Resilience Review to better protect the country from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather events.
While the lull in heavy rain is due to continue throughout today, there are still severe flood warnings in place with further rain expected on Wednesday. We will be monitoring forecasts carefully and I advise everyone to follow Environment Agency warnings on their website and twitter.