Nov 26 2012
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has derided reports that the Government was struggling to secure a new deal with flood insurers for vulnerable homes as "complete nonsense".
It was claimed hundreds of thousands of homes may be left without flood cover due to a row between ministers and the insurance industry over how future flooding bills would be covered.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) had claimed that talks about a "safety net" deal to ensure those in flood-risk areas can continue to afford their policies were at "crisis point".
But Mr Paterson said talks were ongoing - and that ministers were committed to securing a good deal for both householders and the taxpayer.
The Environment Secretary was speaking as he updated MPs on a flooding crisis which has hit homes in regions across England and Wales, leaving three dead and more than 900 homes evacuated.
Over the weekend, a 21-year-old woman was killed and two people were seriously injured in Western Way, Exeter, when they were crushed by a tree as wild winds whipped southern England, and a 50-year-old man died after falling into a canal in Watford. It followed the death on Thursday of a man who was killed when his car became wedged under a bridge near a ford in Rectory Fields, Chew Stoke, Somerset.
Mr Paterson said the Environment Agency currently had 197 flood warnings and 291 flood alerts in place across the country. Forecasters warned of more trouble ahead as a band of persistent rain moves across northern England and North Wales, with County Durham, Teesside, North Yorkshire and the Conwy area of North Wales likely to be worst affected.
Heavy showers are also forecast in Wiltshire, Dorset and central southern England, while gale-force winds are likely to hit the northern coast of Cornwall, the north east coast of England and parts of Wales.
The Environment Agency is predicting river levels to swell overnight with the River Severn being of particular concern.
Mr Paterson said more than 900 properties had been flooded, including up to 500 in the South West alone. He said evacuations may increase given the forecast.