Flood warnings as further heavy rain hits

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Flood warnings remain in place as further thundery showers hit many parts of the country, especially the south-east of England.

The Environment Agency has 8 flood warnings and 38 alerts in England.

The warnings come amid a report in the Guardian newspaper that nearly 300 flood defence schemes have been left unbuilt due to government cuts.

But Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman says "no projects have been cancelled".

The Environment Agency said 364 new flood risk management schemes had been completed in the last three years.

"There will always be more schemes proposed than funds available and no-one can prevent flooding entirely," said the agency's chief executive Paul Leinster.

Meanwhile, the Met Office has a yellow weather warning in place - meaning the public should be aware of heavy rain and localised flooding - for south-east England and the Midlands.

Flood warning terms

  • Severe Flood Warning: Severe floods - danger to life
  • Flood Warning: Flooding expected - take immediate action
  • Flood Alert: Flooding possible - be prepared
'Saturated ground'

Seven flood warnings are in force for the Midlands. Warnings are also in place in the South West and Anglian regions.

There are currently no flood alerts or warnings for Scotland.

An Environment Agency spokesman warned that "locally intense showers falling on already saturated ground could lead to surface water flooding, and possible river flooding from fast responding rivers".

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"The Met Office warns that many areas are expected to see between 20mm and 30mm of rain, but some parts could see up to 60mm - almost a month's worth of rain - in just a few hours."

Heavy rain has led to disruption across parts of country - particularly England, including:

  • The indefinite closure of Old Beer Road in Seaton, Devon, after part of it collapsed
  • Other major roads have also faced disruption, as reported by BBC Travel
  • An 81-year old woman was rescued from her homes in Cleobury by Shropshire Fire and Rescue
  • The service said it had rescued at least 10 people from flooding related incidents over 14 hours on Saturday
  • The Country, Land and Business Association's Game Fair at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire - due to take place from July 20 to 22 - has been cancelled

The deluge follows a warning on Wednesday from the government's official climate change advisory panel - the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) - that four times as many homes and firms could be at risk flooding in the next 20 years.

The panel also criticised the government for cutting funds for flood defences.

'Crazy'

Case Study

Chair of the Cockermouth Flood Action Group, Sue Cashmore, said flood defences in the Cumbria town - which has been hit by floods in recent years - had held up during the recent bout of bad weather.

"We've had three floods in five years here but the £700,000 investment in flood defences in the Gote Road area had their first real test this summer. And so far they have been working.

"The big problem we have here is surface water drainage, but our new pumping system is what has really helped. People don't realise this is often the major issue.

"As a town, our next lot of defences is costing around £4.4m - and the town have put in £1.1m. The trouble for communities is getting the money together."

Charles Tucker, chairman of the National Flood Forum, also spoke out against cuts: "The tide of flooding is rising while government cuts the funding for essential schemes.

"At the same time they demand that local communities put their hands in their pockets to make up the difference. It's like trying to get blood from stones.

"Some flood schemes will succeed in getting local funding but far more won't succeed. As a strategy to address the nation's number one environmental risk, it is crazy."

But responding to reports that cuts had left some 300 flood defences unbuilt, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, said: "The government has not axed promised flood defence schemes.

"Funding is awarded to new schemes on an annual basis, and is not guaranteed in advance. No projects have been cancelled.

"It's our absolute priority to protect homes and businesses from the devastation caused by floods. We are spending more than £2.17bn on preventing flooding - only 6% less than the previous spending period.

"The new partnership approach to funding is bringing in millions of pounds from local authorities and private businesses and we're on track to exceed our aim of providing better protection to 145,000 homes by 2015."

The wettest April-June quarter on record, and further heavy rain in July, has resulted in repeated flooding in many parts of Britain.

BBC weather forecaster Peter Gibbs said further heavy downpours would continue to affect south-east England during Saturday evening - but would clear overnight, leaving scattered showers and some brighter spells across most parts of England and Wales on Sunday.

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