Wednesday, 12 February 2014
An Avoidable Disaster
The above is a photograph of Burrowbridge in Somerset this week.
From the early 60s to the late 80s my parents could see the village of Burrowbridge from their living room window. They lived little more than a mile away and my father walked the dog regularly along the River Parrett, which runs through Burrowbridge.
Dad had done his homework before he built their house and ensured it was built on a hill - not a hill as we mean in Scotland, but more of an incline. Every winter the Parrett would overflow its banks and the road would be flooded but seldom closed. The local farmers saw to that and, along with the pumping system which had been in place for generations, life continued happily while their friends back in Scotland usually battled snow and ice.
How things have changed. In less than 30 years the influential left-wing of UK government, in cahoots with the EU, decided butterflies and voles are more important than people.
What has the EU to do with the maintenance of our waterways? Everything. How I wish the people of these islands would realise the EU has control over any government, be it Westminster or Edinburgh. David Cameron and Alex Salmond bend over backwards to ensure every EU directive is implemented.
I suspect the Somerset Levels qualified as no 11 in the EU Directive 2007/60/EC ‘Flood risks in certain areas within the Community could be considered not to be significant, for example in thinly populated or unpopulated areas’. Until the mid 90s, when many from the south east started to buy up west country homes as holiday homes, the counties of the south west were more or less ignored by London. A little changed in the 90s (can’t afford to upset those wealthy enough to buy luxury holiday homes can we?) but not much. The locals kept feet on the ground.
Speaking of ground, the soil on the levels is solid clay. Even in dry heat of summer, it’s nearly impossible to dig to produce a garden of sorts. Every alternate year my father had tons of top soil delivered because he was intent upon growing his beloved delphiniums and gladioli, but it was hard work. The clay was unforgiving and refused to mix and the top soil was usually just spread over the flower beds.
The clay is the main reason why the water on the Levels refuses to be absorbed by the ground and the lack of trees also hinders the process.
David Cameron, glib with soundbites as ever, insists there will be adequate money available for the flooding problem. although he refuses to acknowledge the problem is the cause of political decisions. Now that the south east is also involved, I suspect the majority of any finance will be spent there and the people of the Levels will be left, not high and dry, but low and wet.
There is talk about reinstating the pumping stations of old and dredging the rivers, but over 12 months ago heard the same utterings. Nothing was done.
I’ve read some ‘greenies’ think the Levels should be left to revert to their ‘natural state’ before the Romans decided to reclaim the land for agriculture. Sometimes I despair at the stupidity of these people. The whole of the Fens was a bog, yet successive governments have ensured the area now is one of the UK’s most productive in terms of produce.
The flooding in the west country could have been easily avoided if politicians had listened to those ‘in the know’. By that I don’t mean the Environment Agency, but the local people who, for generations, have dealt with the land. Party leaders, welly-claded and murmuring platitudes, could be viewed as amusing, but the matter is far too serious.
Will the present flood situation be the catalyst for a nationwide protest against our membership of the EU? All I can do is hope.