Fury As Minister Says Aid Abroad Stops Floods Here
A cabinet minister sparked fury last night after claiming that giving billions of pounds to the Third World would help prevent flooding in Britain.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles rejected demands from Tory MPs that the overseas aid budget be raided to help stricken areas of the West Country, claiming that the money would help curb global warming.
His claims prompted anger among residents whose homes are under water and from Conservatives, who branded the claims ‘nonsense’.
Sharon Saunders, 45, a barmaid from Bridgwater, Somerset, which is at risk of being overwhelmed by flood water, said: ‘Eric Pickles has lost the plot. Charity begins at home and we need to sort this place out before we doing anything else.
‘He needs to come down here for himself and see what it’s like before diverting money anywhere else.’
Helen Marsell, 47, a retail worker from Bridgwater, said: ‘The Government is very quick to jump on the bandwagon for aid donations when something bad happens in another country, but when a disaster strikes here their attitude is, “Oh, it’s only our country, we don’t need to worry about it”.’
Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘I’m not convinced these floods are caused by global warming. But even if they were, the biggest contributors to global warming are China and America and we don’t give them aid money. It’s just utter nonsense.’
No escape from the tide: The Kirby family, pictured inside their flooded home in Moorland, have been forced to evacuate. Pictured are Mark Kirby, his wife Kate and their children, Dom, 16, Georgine, 14, and Theo, 10
Awash: Kate Kirby wades through waist deep flood water outside her home in Moorland, Somerset, as she saves a few possessions from the rising water
The Mail revealed on Saturday that Tory MPs are demanding cash from Britain’s £11billion-a-year aid budget is diverted to help people stricken by the floods.
But Mr Pickles rejected that plan as a ‘populist hit’ and added: ‘If it is truly global warming, then aid we’re offering in other parts of the world could well have an effect in terms of the things that happen in this country.’
Britain has already pledged nearly £2.9billion of taxpayers’ money – or around £100 per household – to a climate aid fund for developing countries over four years.
Mr Pickles yesterday offered an ‘unreserved apology’ for the failure to dredge the Somerset Levels and signalled that Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith should resign over the ‘mistake’.