The Green Party has today called for an urgent inquiry into exactly what the scale of cuts has been to both DEFRA and the Environment Agency.
The Green Party claim that the Coalition government has deliberately ignored warnings about the danger of climate change, including those made by the Party's Environment Speaker Andy Cooper in February 2013, and proceeded to cut funding to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which led to a loss of frontline staff dealing with flooding at the Environment Agency.
Councillor Cooper, who speaks for the LGA on flood protection, said:
'The politicians bicker while people see their lives and livelihoods destroyed. The attempt by Eric Pickles to hide behind Chris Smith is pitiful to behold. The irony is that Pickles, the very man who has reduced local authority budgets so that they cannot afford to invest in flood defences, is now in charge of flood protection. Rather than dealing with the practical steps needed to resolve the crisis he is resorting to politics of the most destructive kind.'
The Green Party is clear that the budget cuts put the ability of DEFRA to manage the flooding at risk, directly impacting the people of the UK. DEFRA, as a whole, has had a 36% real terms budget cut since 2010 which may greatly impact their ability to deal with the flooding crisis. Due to DEFRA budget cuts, the Environment Agency will incur 1,700 lost jobs, of which about 550 will be in its floods team, which amounts to 15% of their staffing.
The Greens also repeated their call for Owen Paterson to be removed from his job at the Environment Department.
Green MEP Candidate for South West, Cllr Molly Scott-Cato, said:
'Having an Environment Secretary who does not accept the scientific evidence that human activity is causing climate change is deeply troubling. How can we have confidence in Paterson's handling of flood protection or flood crises when his view of environmental matters is based on ignorance? The clear statement from Julia Slingo of the Met Office over the weekend, that these weather events are most probably related to climate change, was the last straw for Paterson.'
Evidence from the Met Office and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published in September 2013 supports the link between climate change and increased extreme weather in the UK, especially increased risks of flooding.
The Coalition government and Owen Paterson’s blatant disregard for warnings about the impact of climate change on weather has led to concerns about their ability to manage potential threats to our environment says the Green Party.