Floods – UK free to act, says EU


Flood protection issues took pole position in Wednesday's meeting of the House of Commons' Select Committee on the Environment, which heard oral evidence from leading representatives of the EC Directorate for the Environment in a discussion of respective EU and UK policies on the issue.

Peter Lilley, Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, challenged director general Daniel Crespo on why UK flood protection initiatives should be subject to EC directives, and questioned the relevance of other EU member states deciding on UK responses.

Senor Crespo stressed the role of EU legislation was to create a framework within which individual member states can 'take the measures which they feel are most appropriate'.

Most countries, he said, find it useful to collaborate in the area, but 'the aim of legislation is not to preempt the rights of member states'.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, raised the issue of 'tensions' between economic investment decisions and environmental policy.

As an MEP, she said, she had been 'lobbied day and night' by commercial companies concerned over the impact of European legislation. Senor Crespo replied that, in the long-term, 'the most competitive businesses are the most sustainable ones'.

Peter Heaton-Jones. Conservative MP for North Devon, asked how high the UK would rank in a league table of national influence on EC environmental policy.

'Very high', replied Senor Crespo. 'At committee meetings in Brussels, when I see the UK representative looking alert, I know that something important is happening'.

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