Todd Foreman, Labour's parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, welcomed a report published today by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on the floods that hit Somerset and other parts of England over the winter.
The report says that "overall funding does not reflect the increased flood risk" being driven by climate change and says that money for maintenance of rivers and flood defences "was at the bare minimum." The Conservative-led coalition imposed cuts of 17% in real terms on flood defenses prior to the flooding last winter.
Todd Foreman said:
"The flooding that occurred in Somerset and other parts of England in the winter was devastating and costly. I welcome the Select Committee's cross-party report which provides constructive suggestions for managing flood risk going forward, including repair and replacement of damaged flood defences, dredging and increased cooperation between internal drainage boards and the Environment Agency.
"The Conservative-led government imposed deep cuts on flood defenses after taking office, and this has proven to be a false economy. Furthermore, in February David Cameron said that "money was no object" when it came to flood defence funding, yet the Select Committee has found that flood defence funding which the government has described as "additional" is actually only reallocated within existing budgets. The government still isn't taking the issue seriously enough.
"I welcome that the cross-party report recognises the reality of climate change and increased risk of flooding that is brings. This is in stark contrast to the record of North East Somerset's Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has a record of denying that human activity is contributing to climate change and opposing action to tackle the issue. Jacob has previously said that we should "put people before polar bears" in opposing carbon emissions targets that would help tackle climate change. The recent flooding demonstrates that it's not just polar bears who are affected by the issue, but local residents.
"North East Somerset needs an MP who recognises the reality of climate change and who supports constructive ways of tackling the issue locally, and as part of the UK's wider environmental and energy policies."
1. The report of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmenvfru/240/240.
2. The Timsbury Environment Group reported that in a meeting on 15 September 2012, Jacob Rees-Mogg expressed doubts that climate change was caused by human activity, and that Rees-Mogg "did not appear to accept the judgement on climate change of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), endorsed by the Royal Society, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the leading science academies in most of the world, and believes that lots of scientists hold seriously different views." See http://www.timsbury.net/PDFS/TEG.pdf.
3. Jacob Rees-Mogg said that the UK should scrap carbon emission targets and "put people before polar bears" in a lecture at the Center for Policy Studies on 10 May 2012 available here: http://www.cps.org.uk/files/reports/original/120510113556-JacobReesMogglecture2012.pdf.