Saturday, 11 January 2014

Letter from Lib Dem MEPs to Owen Paterson urging him to access funds from the EU's Solidarity fund to help with Flood relief

Sir Graham Watson MEP
The following letter has been sent to Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), and Brandon Lewis MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) in relation to EU funding for flood relief;

Dear Secretary of State Owen Paterson MP
Dear Minister Brandon Lewis MP
RE: URGENT - application for money to EU Solidarity Fund following flood damage
We write to you regarding the major flooding during the last days and weeks which has, as you are aware, affecting 1700 homes across the country and caused a number of fatalities.
We would like to remind you of the existence of the EU Solidarity Fund, which was created specifically to help respond to major natural disasters across the EU, and can be used to help rebuild transport, water and energy infrastructure, provide temporary accommodation to people who have had to flee their homes and pay for the clean-up operation.
The fund provided millions in assistance following the flooding along the Danube river in May and June 2010 and record payments following the earthquakes in Italy in 2009 and 2012.
The fund has been given a budget of 414 million in 2014, but your department must apply for the funding within 10 weeks of the date on which the natural disaster struck in order to be eligible. Several weeks have already gone by since hte storms before Christmas, so the clock is already ticking and the application for funds must be made urgently. We will then do our utmost to ensure that the grant is approved by the European Parliament as quickly as possible.
We also urge you to ensure that the full grant is used for repairing the damage from the floods in accordance with EU rules and does not get diverted or returned by HM Treasury, as was allegedly the case with 79 million of the 110 million granted to the UK by the fund in 2007.
Furthermore, with regards to tacking the cause of the problem in the medium and long term, we urge you to investigate the possibility of using low-interest loans from the European Investment Bank, EU Structural Funds, and Rural Development funds for the building of flood defences, the dredging of rivers and drainage ditches and other water management schemes.
The UK does not have to deal with this crisis along. There is money available at European level to help rebuild devastated areas - let us use it.
Yours Sincerely,
Sir Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Demcorat MEP for the South West England and Gibraltar