Environment Agency boss should quit over flood response - MPs


The embattled boss of the Environment Agency should quit over his handling of the flooding crisis, MPs in some of the worst-affected areas have said.

Sir Philip Dilley faced intense criticism after it emerged he was on holiday in Barbados over Christmas while parts of the north of England were faced with a deluge.

Conservative Nigel Evans and Labour's Rachael Maskell said his behaviour had been "appalling" and his position was now "untenable".

Ms Maskell, who represents York Central, told BBC Radio 4's The Week In Westminster: "I think it's quite untenable now. This is somebody who is paid £100,000 to oversee the Environment Agency and, at its time of need, he wasn't here. And, therefore, I think it's quite untenable that he does stay in his position now."

Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire were all hit by a series of devastating floods that have left thousands of homes and businesses ruined.

The agency chairman said that his absence - while distracting focus from flood-affected communities - had not affected the agency's performance but admitted he wished he had returned from the Caribbean sooner.

Mr Evans, MP for Ribble Valley, told the programme: "I think it's appalling. I know he's apologised but he said 'I can't guarantee there will never be a flood event while I'm away'.

"He clearly can't guarantee that, but what he should guarantee is that when something like this happens - 16,000 homes - he gets on the next plane, gets a pair of wellies on, gets knee deep in there and works out what the Environment Agency should be doing differently to ensure the flood defences are much, much better."

He added: "Yes I think he should go. Quite frankly, an amazing number of people gave up their Christmases ... and the guy in charge of the Environment Agency, overseeing how effective they are in dealing with these floods, thinks he can do it from Barbados. Well, I think he should spend more time in Barbados."