One of my photos

Some thoughts about flooding

February 11th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Politics · 1 Comment · Life, Politics

I’ve always had a sort of morbid fascination with floods. Wherever I have lived I have always found myself at some point trying to mentally work out contours and relative heights to reassure myself that I am on high enough ground to not be likely to have my house flooded. I can remember even as a young child trying to do such calculations. It isn’t an obsession, though I reckon that if I ever found myself living on polderland it would eventually become one and drive me round the bend.

With all the recent events in the West country and elsewhere everybody else is starting to show an interest in floods, even the Prime Minister?

Unfair? Well yes and no. It may be that actions and decisions of the government have made things slightly worse than they could have been but I think a lot of it is just down to the fact that it has rained a lot more and a lot more often than anybody had expected. When man-made structures that have survived for narly 200 years [*] and natural structures that have lasted for thousands get destroyed it is a fair indication that the weather has been especially extreme. You can’t really blame the government for the weather – but it is the certain knowledge that if Cameron was in opposition he would doing just that which makes me less inclined to let him off the hook.

Some of the government’s problems in relation to the floods are of their own making though. Over the past few weeks they have been perceived to be not doing enough in Somerset. Before they could change that perception, we started getting floods in the Thames valley, which has left them in a terrible position: if they don’t do anything that is seen as effective and decisive  they are sunk as far as the Somerset region is concerned, but if they do then there is every chance they will be accused of not caring about such problems until they start to affect the Home Counties.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

In more practical terms I am getting worried about the Environment Agency. Flood protection and alleviation is obviously going to move  alot higher up the political agenda than it was before and the EA will have a lot of pressure to prioritise that. The danger is that unless they are given the funds and powers for that they will end up having to let a lot of their other work slip.

Watching the news lately you could be forgiven for thinking that flood management is all the EA do but they have a lot of responsibilities for other stuff like pollution and air quality, regulating waste and if fracking goes ahead they are the agency that is supposed to be monitoring and regulating it. It doesn’t fill you with confidence does it? What is most likely? That the government gives the EA all the funds needed to do whatever it is asked to do or that the government expects a lot of it to be funded by those magical ‘efficiency savings’ that it considers to be a silver bullet for all eventualities?

Personally my retirement aspirations have changed from a little place by the sea to somewhere near the top of a bloody great hill.

[*] Although the rail line at Dawlish has been damaged before and has only lasted so long through frequent and expensive maintenance and intervention.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Skuds Sister

    Well from my point of view (1000 feet up in the foothills of the Pennines – yes I am feeling a bit smug) it all seems part of the general trend for needing to have someone to blame. You are right to say that the bulk of the flooding has been down to the large amounts of water falling from the sky – stuff like this is the reason why we call it climate change.
    I guess, to a certain extent, we are all to blame….