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Update on flooding - Tuesday 29 December

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:

Yesterday we saw more settled weather and some water levels receding. However, thousands of families and businesses across the north of the country will have endured another devastating day and, with Storm Frank forecast for this evening, we remain committed to doing everything we can to help those communities affected.

Environment Agency teams are deployed in large numbers in our worst impacted and most at risk communities and I will be chairing a COBR meeting again this morning to ensure that everything possible is being done.

Communities across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire are being urged to remain vigilant for rain expected later today. Flood waters have been receding slowly across flood hit areas, but rain will be falling on saturated ground, bringing the potential for further significant flooding.

The Environment Agency is working 24/7 checking and maintaining flood defences, clearing blockages in watercourses and monitoring water levels and will issue flood warnings where necessary. They are backed by 500 military personnel who remain on the ground across the region, with 1,000 more on standby. Their first priority at all times is to protect lives, homes and businesses and the government is ensuring that all possible resources are made available to get the job done.

The RAF played a vital role yesterday in delivering power generators to the Foss barrier via a Chinook Helicopter, and the barrier is now operational and in the closed position. The Chinook will be used again today to help repair defences in Croston in Lancashire.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister visited York and confirmed we will make available to homes and businesses the same package of support announced for those affected by Storm Desmond. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark has now activated the Bellwin Scheme to help local authorities with their immediate costs and he will be visiting Leeds today where he will outline this in more detail.

I am also working to ensure that we have in place the long-term plans we need to protect our communities in the years ahead. We have capital investment confirmed for the next six years – a first for any government. We are already spending £2.3 billion over that period 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 already commenced a National Flood Resilience Review to better protect the country from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather events.

We will be monitoring forecasts carefully over the coming hours and I advise everyone to follow Environment Agency warnings on their website and twitter feeds.