Police chief calls for closer scrutiny of Environment Agency

A senior police commissioner has called for more scrutiny of the Environment Agency’s (EA) work in the wake of last week’s flooding.

South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, told the Yorkshire Post this week that while local authorities and the emergency services were subject to local scrutiny, this was “less true” of the EA. 

His comments came after the River Don in Doncaster broke its banks, flooding the town of Fishlake and forcing evacuations. Sheffield, which is upstream of Fishlake and received new flood defences in 2007, was largely spared.

Billings said: “Although the EA insisted that in deciding on a flood relief scheme or flood defences for one place, the consequences upstream and down of those decisions is always taken into account, many in the Don Valley believe they were the victims of decisions taken elsewhere. This needs to be far better understood in each locality,” he said.

He added that shifting weather forecasts, including the duration and amount of expected rainfall, compounded the situation in Doncaster.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: “At the height of the flooding, over 400 Environment Agency staff worked 24/7 alongside emergency response teams and our flood defences have helped to protect over 22,000 properties from flooding.

“Flood and coastal erosion management plans are always locally scrutinised and accountable. Regional Flood and Coastal Committees consist of locally elected members and encourage investment in flood risk management that benefits communities. They also provide a link between the EA and other relevant bodies, including local authorities, to understand local flood risk.

“All our flood schemes are appraised and modelled to ensure they do not increase flood risk downstream or upstream.”

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