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The effect of recent flooding in Cornwall.

The effect of recent flooding in Cornwall.

Conservative policy on flood defence has been an unmitigated disaster.

First, they voted for a year-on-year cut in the amount of money available for flood defences. Then, when the inevitable disasters started happening, they refused to take money from a European Union fund specifically created to help with such matters, into which the UK has contributed for decades.

And the flood defences that Tory policy offers are not effective in any case.

It’s true that the Environment Agency is next to useless, also. The last This Writer heard, it was advising better waterproofing of homes and improved warning systems. Great. It encouraged one Twitter user to suggest the following:

“HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FLOODS

“1. Lay a large bet that the Conservative Government will allow your house to flood again.

“2. Collect your winnings.

“3. Move house.”

The best advice on flood defence is provided by the example of a place called Pickering, in North Yorkshire, whose citizens worked with nature – not against it.

They reasoned that the best plan would be to slow the flow of water from the hills, so they built 167 leaky dams of logs and branches – which let normal flows through but restrict and slow down high ones – in the becks above the town; added 187 lesser obstructions, made of bales of heather and fulfilling the same purpose, in smaller drains and gullies; and planted 29 hectares of woodland. And, after much bureaucratic tangling, they built a bund, to store up to 120,000 cubic metres of floodwater, releasing it slowly through a culvert.

Problem solved.

Alas – as you can see from the excerpt below – this example has been ignored by the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee.

But you never know.

If they do manage to establish a floods commissioner, perhaps that person will have the intelligence needed to do what works.

Britain’s flood defences need a radical overhaul to protect communities at risk, with the current ‘fragmented and inefficient’ policy ‘unlikely to deliver sufficient protection in future decades’.

That’s the view of MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, who today called for the creation of a national floods commissioner for England and a new English Rivers and Coastal Authority to take over from the Environment Agency.

They also said water could be stored on farmland to reduce the risk of flooding with incentives for farmers, and developers who flout planning should be forced to pay for the costs of flood damage.

Other suggestions were grants for small businesses who can’t afford insurance and simpler flood risk warnings.

Source: MPs say reform ‘ineffective’ flood defences that leave five million at risk | Left Foot Forward

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