Today (12 January 2023) in the House of Commons Chamber, I participated in Oral Questions to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP.
I asked the Secretary of State ‘What steps her Department is taking to protect communities at risk of flooding?’
Answering on behalf of the Secretary of State, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environmental Quality and Resilience, Rebecca Pow MP replied: ‘We are investing a record 5.2 billion to deliver around two thousand flood schemes, benefitting every region of England. More than three hundred and forty-nine thousand properties have already been protected since 2015, and the Environment Agency has already erected demountable flood barriers in Shrewsbury. These have also been deployed at other locations along the Severn like Ironbirdge, Bewdley, and Upton upon Severn and will be monitoring along with the Environment Agency the situation closely.’
Following up on the reply, I informed the minister that 'flooding has now become an annual occurrence in Shrewsbury with devastating consequences. I chair the Caucus of 40 Conservative Members of Parliament who have the River Severn, Britain’s longest river, flowing through their constituencies. I am extremely grateful for the £40 million secured from DEFRA as seed investment for the River Severn Partnership, which is a consortium of councils that represent communities all the way down the River Severn. They are trying to find a holistic solution for managing Britain’s longest river. Earlier this year, we had Treasury officials in Shrewsbury to see for themselves the GVA uplift for our region if we find a holistic solution to managing this river. What more can she do to help us to secure, finally, managing Britain’s longest river?’
The Minister replied ‘First of all, Mr Speaker, I must thank the honourable Member for all the work that he has been doing in his own constituency seen I have been the Water Minister. He has done nothing but bend my ear about Shrewsbury and the flood situation. Also, his work on the River Severn Partnership, which brings together all of these MPs up and down that important constituency. They have already benefited from significant funding in order to work up schemes and some very useful pilots, and we will be working closely with them.’