THE government's current approach to flood defences has been described as "fragmented, inefficient and ineffective" in a new report.

A damning report by MPs has proposed a radical overhaul of flood management which would see the introduction of national floods commissioner, and a new English Rivers and Coastal Authority taking over from the Environment Agency.

Communities in south Cumbria have been hit by flooding in recent years, most recently during Storm Desmond last December, and John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, warned against the government acting in a reactive manner and said it should find proactive ways to tackle flooding.

He said: "Whether ministers appoint a floods Tsar or a man called Noah with an ark, the government will be judged by its actions in helping communities to prepare for the worst.

"It is right that the government and the agencies involved analyse what went wrong last year, in Furness there were real issues especially with keeping the A590 and A595 open, so we need a proactive strategy that includes vital infrastructure improvements, not simply a reactive one based on picking up the pieces afterwards.

"Fundamentally, this comes down to resources as well as organisation, so the government should pledge to match the flood support funding provided by the EU after Brexit."

Other proposals recommended by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee included punishing developers who flout planning laws and using more farmland to store flood water.

The report from MPs labelled current flood risk management structures as "fragmented, inefficient and ineffective."

Criticism also came from fellow MP, Tim Farron, who questioned the creation of a floods commissioner.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP and leader of the Lib Dems, said the report highlighted how much the government had let down rural communities.

He said: "That a group of MPs think we need to create a flood tsar is a damning indictment on the government. The idea that one person is needed to knock heads together already exists in my book; we usually call them the prime minister. While they were quick to make promises last year, we’ve seen little in the way of action.

"What we actually need is the government to get on with building the flood defences they have been promising for the last five years. Local residents still live in fear each time it rains, yet the government drags its feet building vital flood defences."

The MPs' recommendations come one year on from the devastating storms which swept through Cumbria. Storm Desmond alone racked up a damage bill into the billions.

Committee chairman, Neil Parish MP, said: "Some five million people in England are at risk of flooding. Winter 2015/16 broke rainfall records. Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank disrupted communities across northern parts of the UK, with Desmond alone costing the UK more than £5bn.

At the time, former prime minster David Cameron pledged hundreds of millions of pounds to flood-hit communities in the wake of the winter storms.