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Call for Cameron to access EU disaster fund

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Recent flooding: MEP urges UK Government to apply to solidarity fund

WELSH LABOUR MEP Derek Vaughan is urging the UK Government to take full advantage of vital funding that can be used to help communities across Wales deal with the havoc wreaked by recent devastating floods.

Upwards of £125m worth of support is available from the EU Solidarity Fund, for the UK as a whole, as people and businesses continue to count the cost of the adverse weather conditions in December last year. The Fund was set up to respond to major natural disasters and as a member of the EU, the UK is entitled to apply for cash that can be used to pay for repairs to gas, water, electricity and telephone services, other vital infrastructure including roads and railway lines as well as general cleaning up and temporary accommodation.

Since its creation in 2002, it has been used for 70 disasters across the EU covering a range of different events including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought. The UK has benefitted from the Fund in the past; in 2007 it received £120m from the Fund when 48,000 homes and 7,000 businesses were flooded in the south west of England, the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside. At the time it was one of the largest ever payments made.

Mr Vaughan said: “The recent flooding has been hugely damaging in a number of areas, particularly in North Wales and West Wales where communities have had horrible experiences in dealing with the problems that such events bring with them. “We have all seen the devastation and it is a complete nonsense that the UK Government is failing to take advantage of support that has been specifically set aside to help areas get back on their feet in situations like this. “Applications need to be made to the fund within 12 weeks of the storms occurring and it is now a race against time for David Cameron to get his act together so that the additional funding can be accessed. “I have already raised the matter directly with the European Commission who confirm that the UK will qualify for a substantial grant. It would be a crying shame if the victims of the terrible flooding were to lose out because of the inaction and prevarication of the UK Government.”