More than 1,000 soldiers on flooding standby … but Friends of the Earth aren’t happy

The Government has put 1,200 soldiers on standby to deal with the aftermath of major flooding this winter.

But, according to the Independent, the move has been condemned by environmental campaigners who said it fails to tackle the cause of climate change.

The troops from three Army battalions have been put on 24-hour standby to offer rapid response to flooding as part of what the Government describes as its most comprehensive winter preparedness plan.

The preparations follow a Ministry of Defence review of the handling of recent devastating floods across the country which caused blackouts and forced people from their homes.

But environmental campaigners dismissed the idea, and said putting the Army on standby was no substitute for tackling the causes of worsening floods.

Friends of the Earth climate spokesman Guy Shrubsole said: “The Government’s reliance on the military for flood response underlines how much our changing climate has become a national security issue.

“But crisis management isn’t a substitute for tackling the root causes of worsening floods: dealing with climate change, investing properly in flood defences and working with nature to slow the flow of water.

“And by failing to do our fair share to cut our emissions, the UK Government is helping to drive floods and extreme weather around the globe – affecting millions of people who lack the resources to prepare for the climate crisis.”

Research has found that the extreme rainfall brought by Storm Desmond last December, causing devastating flooding, was made around 40% more likely because of climate change.

The Government said Army battalions are being trained to assist with the rapid deployment barriers when needed.

Other tasks could include providing engineering and logistics support, and assisting with the evacuation of affected communities.

Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer said: “With the Army standing by, we have the most comprehensive winter plan yet to keep people safe and the country moving.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced £12.5 million for new temporary defences, including mobile barriers and high-volume pumps, to be deployed at strategic locations around the country.

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