Those man-made floods

The misery of flooding has struck Britain yet again, and again politicians and the Environment Agency have been wringing their hands (some might suspect in feigned anguish), saying they will build bigger
defences and blaming climate change‘.

Yet talk of unprecedented river levels needs to be tempered by the reality that river beds are also unprecedentedly shallow. Dredging rivers and ditches – something our fathers saw to as a matter of  course – is now almost illegal. And guess who are to blame?

Firstly the EA: Lord de Ramsey wrote in a letter in the (2014):

”I retired as head of the Environment Agency in December 1999… Barbara Young of the RSPB was appointed. It came as no surprise when… she set common sense on its head, called for pumping stations to be blown up and cut maintenance by putting environment‘ first and food and villages second.•
But secondly, Brussels‘ European Water Framework Directive (EWF) came into UK law in 2000. This suited the EA down to the ground as they could turn themselves into a Sierra Club‘ at taxpayers‘ expense.

Photo by Tatters ❀

EU dredging rules make effective flood prevention in Britain impossible

A letter to the Sunday Telegraph – 13th December 2015

SIR — It is not surprising that the rivers in Cumbria have flooded again (report December 6), so soon after the last inundation in 2009.

The Environment Agency cites all kinds of reasons for this. However, it neglects to mention that its policy is dictated by the EU Water Framework Directive, adopted 2000, which places constraints on the dredging of rivers.

Putting in flood defences does not infringe the policy, as long as the river is not dredged or embanked. Hence, for example,  the erection of expensive and ineffective glass panels on the wall next to the Greta river in Keswick. Here there has beenabsolutely no dredging of the gravel that has raised the river
bed considerably over the last decade.

There is nothing unusual about heavy rainfall in Cumbria;  what is unprecedented is the refusal of the authorities to dredge  the watercourses to carry it away.


Philip Walling
Belsay, Northumberla