U.K. Environment Agency in Need of Overhaul After Winter Floods

  • Flooding in northern Britain last winter cost 5 billion pounds
  • Negligent developers should be liable for flood costs

The water continues to rise as the River Nith bursts its banks in December 2015.

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

U.K. lawmakers called for an overhaul of the Environment Agency to help prevent the kinds of floods that ravaged parts of the country last winter.

In a report published Wednesday, the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee attacked current risk-management arrangements as “fragmented, inefficient and ineffective” and said the government is offering only “limited solutions.”

“Some 5 million people in England are at risk of flooding,” said Neil Parish, chairman of the cross-party panel. “Our proposals will deliver a far more holistic approach to flooding and water-supply management.”

Developers who fail to meet planning requirements should be liable for the costs of any flooding, the committee said. It also called for a grant program to help small businesses install flood-protection measures.

Thousands of families were removed from their homes as storms Desmond, Eva and Frank hit northern Britain over the winter, causing huge floods and an estimated 5 billion pounds ($6 billion) of damage. The action taken by the Environment Agency came under heavy criticism, which led to the resignation of its chairman, Philip Dilley, in January.

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