29 Dec 2015

UK's floods defences questioned

7:03 am on 29 December 2015

A "complete rethink" of the UK's flood defences is required following widespread flooding across northern England, the country's Environment Agency says.

Deputy chief executive David Rooke said better waterproofing of homes and improved warning systems would be vital for tackling future weather extremes.

A police canoeist paddles along flooded streets in York city centre,

A police canoeist paddles along flooded streets in York city centre, Photo: AFP

Parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester were flooded after downpours caused river banks to burst.

Prime Minister David Cameron defended government funding for flood defences.

He denied accusations - made by the leader of Leeds City Council - that there was a "north-south divide" in efforts to prevent flooding.

Judith Blake said flooding in Leeds was a "preventable disaster", saying the North had not received "anywhere near the support that we saw going into Somerset" - which flooded in 2014.

She said the government had cut funding for a flood defence project in Leeds in 2011, and there was now a "real anger growing across the North".

However, Mr Cameron - speaking as he visited flood-hit areas - said the UK had spent "more per head of the population on flood defences in the north than we do in the south".

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Photo: AFP

"We are going to spend £2.3bn on flood defences in this parliament but we will look at what's happened here and see what needs to be done," he added.

The Environment Agency has nine severe flood warnings - meaning danger to life - in place in north-east and north-west England, and more than 100 other flood alerts across England and Wales.

It comes as more heavy rain and wind is forecast for late Tuesday into Wednesday - the next bout of bad weather has officially been named Storm Frank.