Large areas of Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumbria flooded over the weekend with councils struggling to implement clean-up operations. But Mr Clark has since confirmed that financial support will be available to councils under the Bellwin scheme.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “The effects of Storm Desmond will be devastating to communities and families whose homes have been flooded – with many suffering this for the second, or even third, time in the last decade.

“We’re determined to stand squarely behind affected communities for the long haul, to help them get back on their feet and into their homes as quickly as possible.

“That’s why today we’re taking the first step on the road to recovery by offering support through the Bellwin scheme so councils starting the clean-up operation can be confident that they will get the support they need.”

The Bellwin scheme enables councils to receive financial aid in the wake of ‘exceptional events’. Councils can now apply to have 100% of damage costs reimbursed.

Over 40,000 in Lancaster alone lost power due to the effects of Storm Desmond. The majority of homes in the region have since been reconnected, with homes in Cumbria the only outlier, with more than 1,000 still awaiting power.

Despite this people have been urged to use power ‘sparingly’ due to questions over the current capacity of the network.

Harsh reminder

The news comes after Environment Secretary Liz Truss announced the government would review its flood risk data.

Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “Liz Truss’s concession that UK flood projection data needs to be revisited is a clear sign that officials are seriously concerned that climate change is increasing the risk of flooding far higher than expected.

“Weak pledges of climate action from this government and others in Paris mean the world is on course to exceed two degrees of global warming, leading to catastrophic climate change. Yet the government’s flood defence plans are predicated on a two degree rise.

“The choice is simple. Either David Cameron must ensure tougher action on emissions at home and globally, or commit hundreds of millions of pounds more to flood defences.”

Professor David Balmforth, flood expert and past president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), said: “Events like this serve as a harsh reminder of the finite capacity of our flood defences, and the destructive impact extreme flooding has on our communities. Cascade failure of infrastructure services such as power and transport further exacerbate the disruption.

“Government’s commitment to invest £2.3bn in flood risk management over the next six years is welcome, but as extreme weather events become more frequent and unpredictable, we will need a more holistic approach to flood resilience.”

The government has agreed to record investment in flood defences, with the aim to build 1400 more flood defences and protect 300,000 more homes from flood exposure.

Government and businesses had previously been warned about flooding, with The Environment Agency highlighting that flooding was a likely occurrence over the autumn and winter months.

Matt Mace

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