Therese Coffey blames the wrong kind of rain for flooding in Storm Babet

The environment minister said the damage caused by Storm Babette was harder to predict because the rain came from the east.

Therese Coffey told MPs that a “rapid review” would be carried out, after pointing out that some UK communities affected by the floods felt they could have been given more pumps to avoid being submerged.

At least seven people are believed to have died in the “unprecedented” weather phenomenon, while hundreds have been forced from their homes in Scotland and northeast England. The storm brought a rare red weather warning to the north of the UK with torrential rain lashing the country for days.

Giving evidence to the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the environment secretary told MPs: “One of the things that happened particularly with Storm Babet is that we are very good, with the Met Office and the Environment Agency's flood forecasts [centre)]in the weather forecast normally because most of our rain tends to come from the west.

“We've pretty much got it down to a fine art. This was rain coming from the other side and we don't have as much experience with it, so our accuracy in predicting where such heavy rain would fall was not to the same degree as if it had been.

“So the Environment Agency had moved assets from parts of the country more towards Yorkshire and the North East and that way.

“But I'm aware there were still some places that felt they could have done with a few more pumps.”

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said the UK was not as good at predicting the rain arriving from the east

(PA Wire)

Storm Babet brought a rare red warning for rain and heavy downpours

(PA Wire)

Ms Coffey promised to carry out a “rapid review” with the Environment Agency to figure out “what could have been done better”.

“Obviously for the people whose homes were flooded this weekend, I fully recognize it's a very painful time for them,” Ms Coffey told the committee.

“Many of them will have to leave their homes for quite some time.”

Hundreds of people have been left homeless in the wake of Storm Babette, with around 1,250 properties in England flooded, according to the Environment Agency.

The Environment Secretary, who visited affected residents in Retford, Nottinghamshire, on Monday said £5.2 billion has been set aside to protect homes and businesses from flooding between 2021-27.

However, she admitted it looked like her department “may not meet” its target of protecting 336,000 properties by 2027.

Downing Street said each type of weather brought with it “different challenges”, as she defended the government's efforts during the storm.

Asked if Rishi Sunak was concerned that the UK was not as good at dealing with rain from the east, the prime minister's official spokesman said: “I'm not sure I would agree with that – different weather presents different challenges.

“But I think when almost 50,000 homes have been prevented from flooding, that will prove that we are prepared for floods.”