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Environment Agency redundancy plans on hold as crisis continues

THE embattled Environment Agency (EA) has put on hold plans to cut jobs as southern England continued to deal with the flooding crisis.

GETTING STUCK IN: William and Harry helped to supply sandbags in Datchet, Berkshire. Picture: Peter Macdiarmid
GETTING STUCK IN: William and Harry helped to supply sandbags in Datchet, Berkshire. Picture: Peter Macdiarmid

The organisation has come under fire over its response to the floods and the failure to dredge the flood-hit Somerset Levels after Labour said 550 flood specialists were at risk of redundancy.

But yesterday, the EA said this was not currently under consideration and discussions about who would be affected would be delayed until "current flooding has subsided".

Yesterday, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry joined members of the armed forces in helping with the supply of sandbags to defend Datchet, Berkshire. The Queen has also contributed feed and bedding from Windsor to help affected farmers on the Somerset Levels.

With further heavy rain and storms are predicted, warnings were in place for heavy rainfall, gale-force winds and snow, which could pile on the problems for areas already struggling in the wake of record wet weather and a string of wild winter storms.

More than 1000 homes have been evacuated in the Thames Valley and the West Country, and others have been left without electricity. Ongoing flooding could continue to affect homes, businesses and land for at least another week, the Environment Agency said. Several severe flood warnings - meaning risk to life - were in force along the River Thames, the Severn at Gloucester, on the Somerset Levels and on the south coast, and there were hundreds more warnings and alerts across England and Wales.

Windsor, Maidenhead, parts of Surrey and communities in Buckinghamshire, West Berkshire and Reading are at risk from the River Thames, which has seen levels rise to 60-year highs, and significant flooding is expected.

Severe gales, large waves and high sea levels are threatening coastal flooding on the Dorset coast, while the south coast from Cornwall to East Sussex is also at an increased risk.

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