UK Floods: Government ‘Made A Mistake’ By Not Dredging
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says the government “made a mistake” and should have dredged the flood-hit Somerset Levels. He told the Andrew Marr Show it may have relied to much on the Environment Agency’s advice and it now recognises that the area should have been dredged.
The minister apologised “unreservedly” to those affected by the flooding.
It comes as weather and flood warnings are still in place for much of the south-west UK.
The Environment Agency has faced criticism that it had not done enough to help those affected.
Repeated calls for dredging were made to government departments by farmers and others in the region at least six months ago but funding was declined.
The area has not been dredged – a process which removes silt from river channels so that water can flow through – since the late 1990s, according to Prime Minister David Cameron who visited the area on Friday.
Mr Pickles, who has now been put in charge of the government’s flood defence, said: “We made a mistake, there’s no doubt about that.
“We perhaps relied too much on the Environment Agency’s advice.
“I think we recognise now that we should have dredged and I think it’s important now that we get on with the process of getting people back into their houses, and really do some serious pumping.”
He added: “I apologise unreservedly and I’m really sorry that we took the advice, we thought we were dealing with experts.”