David Davis leads MPs in debate on Humber flood defences


As published in The Hull Daily Mail
‘Our next big flood will be catastrophic’

HUMBER MPs have told the Government that last December’s tidal flood surge was a “God-given warning” to be ignored at its own peril.

They said Hull and East Riding residents had a “lucky” escape in December, but they warned that the next major flooding event would be “catastrophic” and could result in a “major loss” of life.
Their warning comes a week before they are due to discuss the issue directly with Prime Minister David Cameron.

During a Humber-wide debate, led by Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis, ministers heard that an annual investment of £88m, over ten years, would safeguard the area from future floods – with a major catastrophe predicted within the next 50 years.

Speaking in Westminster, Mr Davis said that on December 5 just “two hours” stood between the Humber suffering flooding of the kind seen across the Somerset Levels.
“But with the difference that we have three international ports and a city of 256,000 people in the middle of it,” he said.

“December 5 was a timely warning – a God-given warning, you might say – of the consequences of inaction.”
The tidal surge occurred a matter of hours before the astronomical tide peaked.
Experts believe that, in the event the two coincide in future, there would be potentially catastrophic consequences for the region.

Mr Davis said: “It’s clear that the impact of the next major flood event could be devastating; there could be serious threat to life and over £32bn of economic impact.
“We were lucky to escape that outcome last year.”

Agreeing, Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart said: “The devastating event could have been catastrophic, with major loss of life.”

The Humber represents the second-highest flood risk in the country, behind only the Thames estuary. But Mr Davis said that, despite the recognition of the dangers faced locally, flood defence spending across the region trailed that of London.
Completed in 1982, the Thames Barrier cost £534m (£1.6bn at today’s prices), plus £100m of support investment.

Mr Davis said the Humber, which runs an annual 0.5 per cent risk of a major flooding event, needs to “survive not a one in a thousand-year event, as London has, but a one in a 200-year event”.
Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson said: “Floods do not recognise constituency borders.

In his message to the Government, he described the tidal surge of December 5 last year as a “dry run as to what could happen if we don’t deal with this issue effectively”.