Greenpeace maroon Paterson

Last edited 17 February 2014 at 12:04pm

Giant Owen Paterson puppet marooned in dinghy outside Westminster as more abandoned flood plans come to light

17 February, 2014

Monday 17th February 2014, London – This morning, Greenpeace activists have moored a rowing boat within yards of the House of Commons with a stranded Spitting Image style Environment Secretary Owen Paterson on board. Greenpeace is demanding that David Cameron sack him for his total failure to recognise the risks of climate change including more severe flooding.[1]

At the same time Greenpeace has released a buried Environment Agency flood risk planning document that shows Owen Paterson’s department has postponed the funding of over one thousand four hundred (1,400) flood relief projects across the country. These projects could have benefitted thousands of homes in the South West.

The data from the Environment Agency titled ‘Flood and Coastal Risk Programmes of Work’ is now being released by Greenpeace and shows that 966 projects that have been postponed until at least 2015/16. According to the Environment Agency’s figures these projects could have protected up to 150 thousand homes, with the number of properties benefitting from each scheme included in the list.

·         In the South-West, 200 projects worth a total of £139m have been delayed

·         In the North West, 173 projects worth a total of £188m have been delayed

·         In the Midlands, 73 projects worth a total of £138m have been delayed.

·         In the South East region, 111 projects worth £417m have been delayed.

The Department for the Environment conducted a review of the flood risks to the UK that concluded a million more homes could be at risk of flooding over the next 15 years because of the increased risk from climate change. But Owen Paterson’s flood plan explicitly disregards climate change as contributor to future flooding, and “assumes that flood risk remains the same.”[3]

David Cameron has said that ‘money is no object’ in the flood relief effort, but the government has refused to commit to increasing spending as advised by the independent experts, the Committee on Climate Change. The Environment Agency have also advised the government that flood defence budgets must increase to be able to respond to flooding adequately and found that increasing spending by around £20 million each year would deliver benefits of some £180 billion over the next 100 years.[4]

As a result of the failure of the Secretary of State to accept climate change and its likely impact Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven has written a personal letter to Prime Minister David Cameron demanding that he sacks Owen Paterson describing him as ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ .

In the letter to David Cameron, John Sauven says “We believe very strongly that Owen Paterson is failing the responsibilities of his office and we need to see someone put in charge who believes in an evidence-led approach to climate change.” He set out why he thinks that Paterson is not fit for office citing a series of decisions taken by the Environment Secretary that could have endangered people’s lives and homes in the current flooding. The decisions include slashing the flood defence budgets and ignoring the advice of flooding and climate experts.

As the letter arrived on the desk of David Cameron in Downing Street Greenpeace moored a rowing boat with a spitting image style Owen Patterson marooned on the Thames directly outside the Houses of Parliament.

Jimmy Aldridge, Greenpeace climate campaigner said:

“Environment Secretary and climate change denier Owen Paterson, has slashed the budget of the Environment Agency against the advice of his own experts, and delayed projects that could have protected more homes, businesses and farmland from flooding. Paterson's not just incompetent, he's irresponsible and dangerous.  He's up the creek without a paddle and he needs to go before he takes us all with him. Cameron has said that money is no object in the relief effort but he has to take urgent action to stop it happening in the future. That means hiring an Environment Secretary who’s up to the job and serious about climate change.”






Niall Sookoo – 077 1115 6881 –

Greenpeace UK Press Office – 020 7865 8255

For footage/stills – or 020 7865 8294




  1. Nearly 34,000 people have already signed Greenpeace’s petition calling for the Prime Minister to allow the Secretary of State for the Environment to spend more time with his family.


  1. The flood defence planning document of flood defence plans, “2014/15 Flood and Coastal Risk Programmes of Work Approved by Regional Flood & Coastal Committees” is here -

   2014/15 FCRM schemes programme (Excel, 611KB)

It contains locations, relevant EA region and area as well as RFCC, cost and details of potential households protected and environmental benefits for schemes going ahead, schemes delayed until 2015/16, and schemes delayed until 2019/20 and is linked to from this page on the Environment Agency website –






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