Following the floods which have caused such devastation in the country, North East MEP Jonathan Arnott has written to the region’s local authorities asking about their contingency plans.
“Local authorities play a vital role in protecting residents from the elements, particularly during cold winter months, and I am very anxious to know what provision the councils have made,” said Mr Arnott.
As well as asking if there are particular flooding concerns in their areas and which sites are considered to be at heightened risk, Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP, has also asked the Chief Executive Officers about their general winter readiness.
“I want to know how much grit is available to deal with icy conditions which will inevitably occur this winter and what contingency plans they have in place in the event of worse than expected weather conditions,” he said.
“Residents rely on their council to assist their safety and as has been shown in other areas such as Cumbria and Yorkshire flood defences have been inadequate and I do not want the same situation to arise in the North East.
“The blame for some of these disasters lies with the EU and the introduction of the European Water Framework Directive which came into UK law in 2000. This has meant that dredging – a highly effective method of mitigating rising river levels – has virtually halted.
“While not explicitly banned, the circumstances in which it may be authorised are significantly limited and involve a lengthy assessment process. Any sediment removed from the river bed, which previously may have been used to raise the river banks, is now classed as hazardous waste and must be disposed of.
“I have asked a written parliamentary question to the European Commission asking if they have plans to review the Water Framework Directive and ease the current restrictions.
“Furthermore, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy has led to widespread chopping down of trees to meet farm subsidy requirements. But chopping down our trees increases the risk of flooding: water sinks into the soil 67 times faster under trees than it does under grass.
“The complete mismanagement has had a devastating impact for so many flood victims and the economic burden is estimated at nearly £6bn. The UK’s net contribution to the annual EU budget currently stands as £14.3bn and frankly funds handed over to Brussels should be redirected to help those in need here to ensure sufficient flooding defences.
“The only way to abandon EU legislation adversely affecting my constituents is take back control over own policies and leave the European Union,” said Mr Arnott.