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All homes 'can't be protected from flood'

A badly flooded UK street25/2/14

By Daniel Machin

The Environment Agency (EA) cannot protect all people and all properties but will do all it can, says its executive director of flood and coastal risk management.

David Rooke said the wet weather would continue this week but the agency is working hard to ensure the impact was minimal.

"We have got high tides this week and rainfall," he said.

"The Environment Agency is still in operation mode doing all we can to minimise risk.

'We can't protect all people & properties'

"We cannot protect all people and all properties but we will do all we can."

Rooke said 6,500 properties were flooded this winter but more than 1.3 million properties were protected and the agency is undertaking emergency repairs across the country.

In Somerset a massive pumping operation is underway after south and south west England saw record ground water levels.

Rooke's comments were supported by Professor Jim Hall, director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.

Managing flood risk

Professor Hall called for a package of measures to be adopted to manage flood risk but said "we cannot prevent against every risk".

He said: "The 2007 floods were a wake up call after 350,000 people were left without water and 42,000 without electricity.

"Major steps have been taken since then [but] in some senses we still seem to be in a mode of discovery by disaster.

"Adapting to a changing climate is still a work in progress."

Wettest winter since 1910

Figures for 1 December to 19 February show the UK has had 19.2 inches of rain.

This makes it the wettest winter in records dating back to 1910, beating the previous record set in 1995 of 19.1 inches.

Rooke confirmed the agency's promise that dredging would take place on the Somerset Levels but said it was only "part of the solution not the full solution".

"With the money the government has now given us we awarded a contract to start dredging as soon as it is safe to do so," he said.

It is hoped dredging in the area will start next month.

Call for civil engineers to work on flooding

Professor Roger Falconer is director of the Hydro-environmental Research Centre at Cardiff University.

He said he hoped to see more engineers involved in work to prevent and reduce the impact of flooding in the UK.

"I would like to see the money spent on civil engineering issues.

"It would be very good if engineers took a more responsive role and we should encourage people to get advice from civil engineers," the professor of water management said.


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