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FLOODS PROMPT FEARS OVER PREVENTION COSTS

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Councils in England and Wales are bracing themselves for an increase in Environment Agency fees, following recent f...
Councils in England and Wales are bracing themselves for an increase in Environment Agency fees, following recent floods.
All 10 regional agencies will decide fee levels at meetings over the next few weeks. Each meeting is chaired by a representative appointed by the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Kirklees MC leader Kath Pinnock said: 'The government should fund such work from national coffers . . . responsibility for meeting the costs of flood prevention measures lies squarely at the door of national government.'
She said Kirklees faced a 60% increase in the Environment Agency's flood prevention charges. The council plans to appeal to environment agency chair Sir John Harman, who is a former leader of Kirklees. The increase will lead to an average£8 increase in council tax, the council claims.
The Environment Agency in Yorkshire said: 'Kirklees has received considerable amounts of [flood protection] money in the past. That's why they weren't flooded this time.'
Peter Borrows, regional flood defence manager for the Thames region, said:
'There's always a reluctance to accept increases in the precept, but councils need to accept the nature of the flood risk. The regional committees consider the needs of the coming year and recommend an appropriate levy.'
Deputy prime minister John Prescott has agreed to extend the Bellwin scheme which provides emergency financial assistance to councils dealing with floods. The scheme provides reimbursement for essential expenditure, which ensures that key services do not suffer as a result of extreme weather conditions.
MAFF minister Elliott Morley said: 'Councils should be commended for the tireless and professional way they have dealt with recent and current floods.
Although they have a responsibility to budget for these types of emergencies, this year's floods have clearly been exceptional.'
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