MPs want flood defence reforms – but ignore the best examples

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:


“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

Do you want Vox Political to cover a story? Use this form to tell us about it:

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


5 thoughts on “MPs want flood defence reforms – but ignore the best examples

  1. Michael Broadhurst

    councils clearing the drains again might help,or is that too obvious in these days of no joined up thinking in government or councils ?

  2. mohandeer

    So many environmentalists and engineers who are also experts in creating flood defences are totally ignored and homes across the country suffer flood damage needlessly. Apparently you don’t need common sense or even people who know what they are doing to become an Environmental Agency boss.
    If you denude naturally water retentive landscapes which act as a relief valve and thwart the natural passage of water you are fighting against mother nature. Only a bloody fool does not acknowledge that force is not a battle we can win with the backward thinking solutions successive governments have adopted.

Comments are closed.