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Ed Balls Pledge & Experts Call On Flooding Welcome

Friday, February 21, 2014

GMB Welcome Labour Spending Pledge And Call By Experts For Cross-Departmental Conference With Professions To Tackle Flooding

Prime Minister should heed and act on sensible advice from the experts and also stop the redundancy process at EA by taking the 1,700 job cuts off the table says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff at Environment Agency (EA) and the Water Industry, responded to Labour spending pledge and calls by experts that David Cameron convene without delay a cross-departmental conference, including the professions, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Communities, the Environment Agency and National Resources Wales. See notes to editors for Ed Balls statement and for copy of letter from experts both in Daily Telegraph.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer for EA staff, said “GMB welcome this intervention by these experts. The Prime Minister should heed and act on this sensible advice from the experts. GMB also welcome the pledge by Ed Balls on funding.

At the meeting yesterday with EA managers I formed the clear impression that it will be the Prime Minister who will make the final decisions on going ahead with 1,700 job losses at EA.

What we need to see now is a clear commitment from Government to stop the redundancy process and to take the 1,700 job cuts off the table.

This should be in favour of an independent inquiry into what are the realistic funding levels necessary to ensure the EA has both the capital budget to protect the country from flooding and drought and a big enough revenue budget to maintain, service and run these vital defences.

At the root of the current flooding crisis are successive years of central government cuts that have trimmed maintenance budgets to unsustainable levels.

The experts recognize that in the Environment Agency are people experienced in addressing these problems as there are among the members of their organisations.

The Prime Minister must tell George Osborne to act on funding in next month’s budget and he should get on with mobilising the joint expertise to avoid any repeat of the damage we have seen since Christmas.”

End

Contact Justin Bowden 07710 631351 or Frank Minal 07713 079930 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to Editors

1 Statement by Ed Balls on funding “Rather than the short-termist salami-slicing of budgets we have seen, we need instead to make long-term decisions now that can save money in the future.

Next month's Budget must begin to set out that action, and I am also clear that investment in flood defences - preventative spending that can save money in the long- run - must and will be a priority for the next Labour government.”

2 Copy of letter to Editors in Daily Telegraph dated 21 Feb 2014.

SIR – As landscape architects, architects, engineers, hydrologists, ecologists and other specialists with the experience necessary to tackle flooding, we would like the Government to be aware that the expertise of our professions is available and, we believe, urgently required.

While we are pleased to hear that the Prime Minister will provide leadership and funding, it is essential that government actions are based on best practice developed over many years.

Water management techniques could have helped prevent the effect of flooding on villages, towns and over surrounding land seen recently. Emergency measures are in order for the immediate crisis. But in the long term, the management of water requires a clear strategy.

We need to look at how forestry, land management and soft-engineered flood alleviation schemes can hold back water in the upper reaches of rivers, and how dredging may assist in the lower reaches.

We need to fit sustainable drainage systems comprehensively for existing buildings and all new buildings. Buildings and land that cannot be properly protected should be made resilient to withstand flooding. All new housing on flood plains must be resilient when built.

Co-operation is needed between the professions, the water companies, internal drainage boards, local authorities, the Environment Agency, and Natural Resources Wales. They must all work with landowners and residents to be effective.

In the Environment Agency are people experienced in addressing these problems, as there are among the members of all our organisations. We need to mobilise that joint expertise.

We are asking David Cameron to convene without delay a cross-departmental conference, including the professions, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Communities, the Environment Agency and National Resources Wales, similar to the one convened to address the problem of ash dieback.

S E Illman
President, Landscape Institute

George Adams
President, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers

Heather Barrett-Mold
Chair, Institution of Environmental Sciences

Martin Baxter
Executive director – policy, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment

Shireen Chambers
Chief executive, Institute of Chartered Foresters

Adam Donnan
Chief executive officer, Institution of Environmental Science

Michael Doran
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

John Gregory
Institute of Fisheries Management

Sally Hayns
Chief executive officer, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

Louise Kingham
Chief executive, Energy Institute

Steve Lee
Chief executive officer, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management

Karen Martin
Chief executive, Arboricultural Association

Dr Peter Spillett
President, Institute of Fisheries Management

Alastair Taylor
Chief Executive, Institution of Agricultural Engineers

Professor William Pope
Chairman, Environmental Policy Forum

Mike Summersgill
President, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

Jim Whelan
Council Member, Institution of Environmental Science

 

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