I wasn’t going to add to the amount of words being bandied about over the continuing rain and floods, but my hand has been forced.
How unhelpful to have Eric Pickles and others in government sniping at the Environment Agency! Without unlimited funding, how could they have put in sufficient water management and flood defences to stop flooding with the amount of rain we have seen this winter? And can you imagine the uproar there would have been if they had pushed for extra funding for flood defences five years ago, when the UK was in the middle of a dry period, with very low rainfall each winter? Well I can imagine the headlines, and they wouldn’t have been pretty!
The situation is dreadful and steps need to be taken to help those affected as much as possible in the short term, but almost more importantly we need to prevent this extent of flooding happening again.
Long term solutions are going to take real leadership and imagination. Yes, we need to spend money, but we need to spend it wisely. We need to hear about all the ways in which we can capture heavy winter rain to hold it back from causing floods to be used during dry months, as I can’t imagine dredging rivers alone will be enough. Perhaps large rain storage tanks installed wherever possible (new developments, parks, public land …) to be pumped out during the summer for irrigating crops, watering gardens, flushing toilets and the like. Perhaps a law that buildings on low lying or flood risk land need to be raised up above the possible flood levels on stilts. It should not be beyond our collective skills to come up with solutions that manage water to save properties, businesses and lives, but which can also help the wider environment including wildlife. Maybe we can build in some green energy production into the bargain.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that we need to be clever and collaborative to do this well. Come on, politicians! Stop blaming everyone in sight and starting working on a big plan for the long term.