The costs of flooding

The Prime Minister rightly reassured people experiencing floods that the costs of helping them during the crisis will not be subject to some arbitrary cash limit.The government does not wish to ration sandbags or fail to help rescue people stranded and in distress.

Much of the cost of responding to the floods is already catered for in current budgets. It is a case of switching Environment Agency staff, police, fire and military personnel from other duties to flood work. They will be paid the salaries that have been in budgets for sometime. Of course the government will need to raid the contingency fund or the underspends against the 2013-14 budget to pay for some additional costs. These include the extra sandbags, the purchase or hiring of extra pumps and barriers, the private sector contractors who may be used to assist the emergency services, any extra pay for overtime for public sector employees and the additional expenses some staff will incur as they try to work in difficult conditions away from their normal base.

The question of who pays for the repairs once the waters have subsided is a different one. Most of the damage will be to homes. These are mainly insured by their owners. The government has offered to work alongside the insurance companies to help ensure fair and speedy settlement of claims to get the work done and people back to normal as soon as it is possible to do so. Business premises too will usually be insured.

Businesses and farms will also have suffered loss of income which may well not be an insured risk. The government has made some more money available for farmers immediately, and will doubtless look at what help could be offered to other businesses brought low by the inability to trade for a period. It has asked the banks to be helpful to businesses, and has announced favourable tax payment terms for affected businesses.

The bigger financial question will be which schemes should be brought forward or developed for the future to give more parts of the country more protection against future floods. A fundamental rethink of the Environment Agency’s large £1200 million budget would be a good place to start. There may need to be some additional financial provision from government capital budgets in future years, which can be achieved by altering current priorities. This should be allied to new thinking on either preventing more new building on floodplain or requiring works to handle the additional water that leave the position better, not worse, than before the development.Some of the recent anti flood investments have paid off and have protected homes. We need to find more schemes which can protect those places which have suffered badly this time.

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112 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Well just cut all the subsidies for wind, pv, electric cars, HS2 all the (100 times more knowledgeable brilliant non dredging experts) at the environment agency (and the 50% of the state sector that does nothing of much use). Then put a special tax on all those bloated state sector pensions of all the experts in say English Literature, Coleridge and Wordsworth and newts at the EA.

    Stop wasting tax payers cash on environmental and economic nonsense and get the river flow rates up, build some reservoirs and get the surplus water flowing into the sea. Oh and fire Ed Davey and all the other purveyors of expensive green crap.

    No doubt we will still have hose pipe bans again in a few months though, due do a lack of planning and reservoir infrastructure.

    What Cameron actually said, and rather foolishly, was that “money is no object in the relief effort”. Is he using his money then?

    I see Lord Winston on Question Time seems to have swallowed most the AGW religion & its exaggerations whole. He also seems to think, like Cameron, that a greater Switzerland would be bad for the UK.

    Unlike Cameron Cameron he actually gave some reasons:

    He thinks that the Swiss have not benefited from immigration – Complete and utter nonsense they have benefited hugely but retain control and selectivity over it – unlike the UK through housing, wealth and other restrictions.

    He also think they have a huge problem with an over valued currency – the sort of problem it is rather nice to have and very easy to rectify should one ever wish too.

    The main problem they have is being surrounded and land locked. Fortunately the UK is not.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      Oh and this winter’s rainfall has not actually been that unusual in historical terms. Nor have the high tide levels they just coincided with rather windy days. If you give rivers and ditches twice the cross sectional area you will, surprise surprise, get rid of water at much more than twice the rate. Just in case the, 100 times more knowledgeable experts at the EA did not know.

      Rather like relative blood flow in humans arteries (congested or otherwise) Lord Winston might perhaps understand.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        According to the distortions fed to and repeated by the excitable media the rainfall is the highest (or lowest) since records began, unless you take into account those past occasions when it was higher (or lower), and the winds are the strongest ever recorded, except when they were stronger, and the temperature is the highest on record, except for when it was higher … and it helps to ignore the earliest records and shorten the period being used for comparison, and it helps to “adjust” some of the records … all leading to the conclusion that we are experiencing unprecedented “extreme weather” events caused by human activity and we have to do our bit to help stop that by shutting down swathes of our economy even though that would make no perceptible difference to the climate … and we have a Prime Minister who has swallowed all this hook line and sinker.

        • Chris
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

          Well said, Denis and lifelogic.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          Indeed they are very selective. It is rather wetter than average and rather windy but nothing abnormal in an historical context.

          The BBC seem to think the weather forecasts, flood warnings, the number of times someone closes the Thames barrier are some sort of pathetic drama for entertainment.

          It must be fun for the reporters to have to keep paddling into various bits of water, just to film this endless weather “drama” saga.

          That and the Government Ministers’ pathetic hunter welly photo shoot circus.

        • Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

          A favourite is “The highest temperatures since records began were recorded at Heathrow . . . “. A useful place because records only began in 1948, and the vast expanses of tarmac always hold the heat.

          • APL
            Posted February 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

            English Pensioner: “and the vast expanses of tarmac always hold the heat.”

            Not to mention the proximity of quite a few large jet engines producing large amounts of hot exhaust gas, Nah! that’d not affect the temperature, must be climate change.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      I see the Tories (and perhaps religion and green belief systems too) are not that popular in South Manchester.
      The Rev Daniel Critchlow (C) 3,479 (14.52 % down by 11.03 per cent) UKIP at 18% second and Labour 55%.

      What chance has Cameron got when he is still rowing toward the water fall in his hunter wellies, while promising other peoples’ money to all.

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Aother day another rant.

        From Cameron to flooding, from pensions of higher education professionals to precipitation levels, from Switzerland to South Manchester, from sacking government ministers to hypertension.

        Its all a bit exhausting.

        How about one analyis per subject per day?

        • D K McGregor
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          Well said , is it Dr Johnson / Samuel Pepys or Baldrick / Blackadder?

        • arschloch
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

          You forgot to mention “ratting on a £1m nil rate band for IHT” not that he is rich enough for it to be a problem

      • BobE
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        UKIP did well. The groundswell is happening.

        Reply Coming a poor second achieves nothing.

        • Chris
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply:
          This comment from the D Tel comments section to Dan Hodges article says it all:
          “UKIP more than trebled its number of votes (as compared to that seat in 2010), and licked the coalition parties, both of whom were well ahead of UKIP in 2010 – with the Lib Dems going from 22.3% of the vote in 2010 to losing their deposit yesterday.
          If you think UKIP lost, how would you describe the performance of the Tories and Lib Dems?”

          My question to JR would be, why are you apparently failing to recognise the significance of the rise of a party from just a few percent in 2010, and in fifth place, to achieving second place in 2014, with c. 18% of the vote, pushing the Tories into third place? It is a highly significant rise, and even although you may think it achieves nothing, many other politicians seem to be far more circumspect and are rightly concerned.

          • Hope
            Posted February 15, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

            Thirteen years coming second and being in opposition has taught the Tory party nothing. They are on course for a further bout of the same because of this type of arrogance. Unwise and unbelievable reply JR.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

          It achieves nothing true but ratter Cameron can never win so that will achieve nothing either.

        • Nige
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          Better than a poor third

        • Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

          Better than coming a poor third! Or fourth!

        • Bob
          Posted February 15, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          At least you got you deposit back Mr Redwood, which is more than can be said for your coalition partners.

          It would be interesting to hear your views on the safeguards the government have applied to prevent fraudulent postal voting.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        I noticed that there were 10,141 postal votes in this by election in comparison to 13,883 cast on the day.
        An unusually high number which makes me worried if there are any better controls in place now, compared with a recent well known Birmingham election, where a judge said the level of control to combat fraud was totally inadequate and akin to a banana republic.

        • APL
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

          Edward2: “An unusually high number which makes me worried if there are any better controls in place now,”

          No.

          The postal voting system introduced by Labour is rank with corruption, the Labour party likes it that way.

        • D K McGregor
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          Are you sure? Three quarters of the vote was postal? If you are correct then this is a disgrace.

          • Bob
            Posted February 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

            @D K McGregor

            Three quarters of the vote was postal? If you are correct then this is a disgrace.

            When people are fed and housed without being exercised they grow very big and can’t get through their front door to go to the polling station. That’s why hamsters have running wheels in their cages to burn off the effects of all those free sunflower seeds.

            Without postal votes, how else could the Labour dependent classes vote to continue their sedentary lifestyle? (which begs the question of how do they get to the nearest postbox?)

        • zorro
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Of course, you do know that the person with overall responsibility for the situation in Birmingham is currently in overall charge of HMRC. I am referring to Lin Homer……..

          zorro

          • stred
            Posted February 16, 2014 at 12:27 am | Permalink

            Having filed my tax form by internet again, it again told me to pay about twice the caculated amount. Eventually, after spending about £10 waiting, I got through to 2 very helpful chaps in Cardiff, who referred to It when explaining the IT system. After a while, after insisting that I could not be expected to pay much more every year, they admitted that, if the bill was over £2k, IT always doubled the amount to pay, and admitted that the Tax calculator did not know how much you had already paid. It seemed so much like the human migration counting system that Mrs Homer would be the ideal person to be in charge.

        • arschloch
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          The Conservatives silence on this issue is disturbing to say the least. They deserve to get the general election stolen from them. Are we seriously to believe that a constituency that is built around what was once the biggest council estate in Europe, 10,141 people found that they would be inconvenienced to take a short walk down to the poling station?

          • APL
            Posted February 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            arschloch: ” They deserve to get the general election stolen from them.”

            They don’t care if the Westminster merry-go-round turns one more revolution, a couple of people will find they can no longer ride on the Gee Gees, but Cameron and his chums will still have comfortable tax funded salaries; to do nothing but rubber-stamp the torrent of laws originating in Brussels.

            Money for old rope.

    • Bob
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      @lifelogic

      He also thinks they have a huge problem with an over valued currency

      I would refer to it more as a “valued” currency. Unlike the currencies of the print, borrow and spend economies which will eventually need to be printed on a perforated roll of 280 sheets.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Yes, Winston looked a bit surprised when, having said that Switzerland had not benefitted from immigration, Dimbleby told him that Switzerland had more than 25% immigrants.

      And Odone had to say, of course, that the Swiss were exhibiting xenophobia.

      These holier-than-thou people will just not accept that people can be nice, decent people and still be against more immigration. I don’t want any more immigration because, I think, this country (particularly the South East) already has way too many people here already. Roads are crowded, housing is in short supply and our infrastructure is creaking.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        I too was rather surprised to hear Dimbleby say anything so un”BBC think”.

      • stred
        Posted February 16, 2014 at 12:35 am | Permalink

        My bruv outlaw was a Swiss immigrant and voted against more. Seems familiar, etc.

  2. Arschloch
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    As I have said before I am really pessimistic for the future of Britain. What worries me most is that I do not think neither Cameron or Osborne have the nous to be able to provide an analysis of the situation as JR has done in his article, let alone provide any leadership on bringing the required solutions to fruition. I hope the people of Britain are beginning to realise that when disaster strikes you will be mostly on you own. Cameron is only telling half the truth when he says money will be no limit. When Cockermouth was flooded out a few years back, plenty of money was spent. However this was in the form of increased direct taxation through the council tax and the flood barriers in the town centre being paid for by private subscription. JR as an aside will MPs be taking a serious look at the EA and holding them to account? Apart from their plush admin offices, why did they spend my tax notes on sponsoring a gay rights festival?

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted February 15, 2014 at 1:47 am | Permalink

      Arschloch – Sponsoring a gay rights festival ?

      Who said the village people were being ignored by metropolitan types at the top of the EA ?

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Also they government should stop distorting the flood insurance market rates with their silly cross subsidy scemes. Just stop sending the wrong signals to the market. Be they on banking, deposit protection, interest rates, gender neutral insurance, green energy subsidies, CAP, transport, flood insurance or anything else. It all wastes billions.

    Still at least some good news the absurd, fake green Libdems lost their deposit.

  4. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    It looks like new opportunities to me with the building of dykes. Residents in these low flat lands should not have to be concerned every time it rains. It makes sense to be proactive rather than reactive.

    • Dan H.
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      I see from an article on the BBC website, combined with a little detective work, that a set of huge pumps are being installed on the King’s Sedgemoor Drain in Somerset, just where it joins the Parrett estuary. Given that this area is an industrial estate with very good links to the M5 (junction 23 is about half a mile away) the question does arise as to why a permanent and very large pumping station has not been built in this obvious location already?

      Surely a lack of infrastructure in this very obvious location is dereliction of duty on the part of the Environment Agency officials responsible?

      • Hope
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        They deliberately chose not to dredge. This was a deliberate choice made. The question to be posed is whether this was getting rid of business, farms and homes by stealth? Why has Cameron allowed this to happen? Why the fake interest now?

      • stred
        Posted February 16, 2014 at 12:41 am | Permalink

        The EA boss in 2000 wanted pumps blown up, according to the previous boss. There are several drainage rivers across the levels and the M5 provides a dam between the levels and the Bristol Channel. More interesting by the day.

        • stred
          Posted February 16, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

          Could someone who lives there explain why, unless they put in tidal barriers on the drains and rivers, when they pump the water out, what stops it flowing back in again at high tide?

  5. Old Albion
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Of course if you were to invest the £11 billion your government has pledged for overseas aid, into flood defences in England, the problem could be cured.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      So you are suggesting that hundreds of people should die abroad to save a handfull in the UK.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        btf
        Or reduce our funding of India’s space race project so elderly people in this country can survive.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Libdemitis can strike at any time. There is no known cure but the initial symptoms can be easily identified and are instantly recognisable.

      • Old Albion
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Were it that simple;
        Take out the money that is lost to corruption. Take out the money that is given to countries such as India, who don’t need it. Then see how much is ‘saving lives’
        Ironically some of the ‘aid’ money goes toward flood defences in foreign lands.
        Never mind ‘behindthe frogs’ says stuff the English they only pay the tax that is sent abroad while England disappears under water.

        • APL
          Posted February 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          Old Albion: “Were it that simple;”

          Then also add in the fact that since the politicians are running a budged deficit which is increasing, the money we pay in overseas aid is actually borrowed and will have to be paid back with interest.

          a very expensive way of assisting people.

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        You must ask yourself will overseas aid stop the deaths or simply help a handful of survivors who may survive without the aid. It is not as cut and dry as you propose.

      • Excalibur
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 2:12 am | Permalink

        Emotive flapdoodle, behindthefrogs !! A tiny fraction of overseas aid actually reaches the people who need it.The Indian government has told us that India does not need the aid, but the government continues to waste our money on it. South Africa, one of the richest countries on the planet in terms of its natural resources, also receives aid that could be used more usefully here at home.

  6. Duyfken
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Much may depend upon the extent to which the EA/Government may be seen to be culpable. If much of the damage is due to incompetence and poor administration, then perhaps those affected could have a case against these authorities; perhaps even the insurers may wish to pursue a class action in subrogation.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      It seem to me the EA’s own documents clearly show they are extremely culpable. Having said that the EU, the exaggerated AGW religion agenda, the obsession with any wild plants, trees, animals or “natural” (over and above humans) and legal framework does not help them.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
    • lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      It seems very clear that the EA was very culpable just read their own documents – see for examples see the BBCbias.org blog. Even now they are clearly against pumping, dredging, houses and intervention and for any wildlife whatsoover. It seems to be all about phone line income, scaring people, the AGW agenda, fee income, preventing people doing things their wages and pensions.

      They are of course

  7. Richard1
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    In the East of England though there has been some flooding it has not been as bad as it was c 10 years ago due to the simple remedy of ditches being properly maintained along fields. I suspect much can be done by ensuring proper maintenance of ditches by farmers and dredging of rivers. It is clear the the Environment Agency has been an impediment to this. Obviously building on flood plains is a major factor, and people need to buy such houses with their eyes open.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      A few years ago the EA invested a huge amount of money in creating the Jubilee River to move the Thames past Maidenhead. This flood defence is now being blamed for the flooding down stream.

      We also hear people like Paul Daniels suggesting that the Thames should be dredged. The Thames is a self scouring river that does not need dredging below Oxford. Dredging above Oxford would just move the water down stream faster into the urban areas currently being flooded thus making the problem worse.

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        behindthefrogs

        “……EA say the river Thames is self scouring….”

        We have been here before with this statement,

        If so, why does it silt up in parts and is thus shallower than in previous years, with river craft bottoming out.
        Local knowledge in most marina’s.

        EA also wanted to sack lockeepers a few years ago, saying the weirs could be automated.
        They still thought this was a good idea until it was pointed out that fallen trees and other debris sometimes block a weirs sluices, so automation would fail.
        A lock keeper is also a source of local river knowledge, they do rather more than just open lock gates !

      • Edward2
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Not so
        The Thames has been neglected due to the general policy of non-intervention in nature by the EA
        Routine maintenance such as the clearing of trees and the cutting back of overgrowing vegetation on the banks has been reduced and no dredging has taken place for years.
        If it was done properly and carefully up and down stream, only good will result.
        Doing nothing, which is our current policy, is leading to unnecessary flooding and misery for many.

        • Chris
          Posted February 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

          A very good point regarding clearing of trees and vegetation, Edward2, and a point made by R North on his eureferendumblog today, complete with photograph, courtesy of Farming Forum, I believe. This was taken by James Winslade’s family of the River Parrett, at Burrowbridge (Winslade had to evacuate his cattle from the Somerset Levels). The reduction in carrying capacity of the “river” due to this neglect is very significant indeed, and can be seen clearly on the photograph.

    • Tony Wakeling
      Posted February 15, 2014 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      I remember 60 years ago, as soon as harvest was over, we farm-labourers spent most of the winter hedging and ditching. The only tools required were a billhook and a shovel. Put the unemployed to work-plenty of temporary accommodation in the form of holiday caravans in the areas at risk

      • Richard1
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Interesting recollection.

    • Excalibur
      Posted February 15, 2014 at 2:21 am | Permalink

      When I was a boy, prisoners of war were used to dig ditches, very effectively. We used to salivate at their jam sandwiches — jam that was not available to us. Perhaps we could employ illegal immigrants on this work !!

      • Richard1
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        My father has the same memory. Illegal immigrants should be deported, but maintaining drainage could be an excellent use of workfare.

  8. A different Simon
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Chertsey and the rest of Spelthorne were deliberately sacrificed to spare Kingston-Upon-Thames down to the Thames Barrier from being flooded .

    Those in the flooded areas are going to see insurance premiums go through the roof and even with insurance will not be fully compensated for the loss .

    How about zero-rating the council tax in the flooded areas for the next 5 years and increasing the council tax in those areas which were prioritised in order to make up the shortfall ?

    Since the Govt approved building on these flood planes and was not honest that they would be deliberately flooded for reasons of sparing those downstream and in the case of the Somerset Levels biodiversity , shouldn’t the costs of the disaster to the few be absorbed by the masses ?

  9. stred
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    MSM are reporting that the EA is planning to make staff who deal with flooding redundant, and therefore the ‘cuts’ are a terrible mistake. No doubt a classic ploy.

    However, there must be a number of highly paid environmentalists, such as newt experts, from the top down who would be ideal candidates. Probably, the staff dealing with flooding would be glad to see the back of them.

    • Peter Davies
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      If true all the more reason to take flood defence out of the EA’s remit and give it its own organisational focus like other countries do

    • Chris
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Also the “depressed mollusc” experts of Thames Valley flooding fame come to mind.

  10. Peter Davies
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I heard Smith defending the EA Budget when compared to other countries by saying it was not “like for like” – the EA has a much wider remit. Given the focus needed for flood defence might it be an idea to split this responsibility out into its own management structure? Either as a flood defence agency or as a dedicated part of DEFRA.

    Following on from that something needs to be done to ensure that Quango management heads are selected on genuine merit/qualifications rather than which political parties they are tied or affiliated to and who they know. Anyone with any background in activism should be deselected at the first hurdle as they would be in any defence or MOJ type role.

  11. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I want to ask what happens next time? And that is just round the corner.
    Will the wretchedly besieged insurance companies be prepared to couch up indefinitely? The government, as always, is broke. Paying our a few billions sounds good in a sound bite, but then administering it is a bit harder.

    Allow me to suggest one cause that has not so far been raised: link the flooding to building houses on flood plains. Why are we doing this? Because of population. Most people I know have very few children nowadays compared with Victorian times. The population ought to be decreasing.
    In fact it is exploding especially in the South East.
    The new chums are living in the centre of the towns and the people who used to live in the centre of towns now move out desperately into the surrounding villages and hamlets where the housing is, or course, very scarce. What a pressure to build new houses – anywhere!
    Immigration, once again, becomes the driver, but this time of the flood disaster.
    Not global warming, weirding or wobbling.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      We need the planning laws changed so that all hard standing for cars etc. must be permeable. A large amount of the runoff problem would be solved if all carparks were permeable. Half of the problem with building new houses and factories is not created by the actual buildings but by the surrounding car parks and roads.

      We also need to stop mature trees being felled. These not only take up a large amount of water but also create natural drains with their root systems.

    • D K McGregor
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      “the wretchedly besieged insurance companies be prepared to couch (sic) up indefinitely?”
      They don’t cough up . we do , through increased premiums , after they’ve had all their salaries , index linked pensions , luxury offices and jollies along the way.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Who pays ?

    Clearly the government in the form of the taxpayer pays for the public sector wages of all those who are working on the floods, it is simply a question about inter Departmental charging for labour and equiopment, of which I am sure there will be many arguments.

    Much as I hate the idea of more governmental interference, the simple solution would be to make the government responsible for all flooding claims via an insurance policy (government to set the annual premiums) for all those home owners and businesses who would prefer this cover, rather than using private insurance companies who may refuse, due to the risk in certain area’s.

    The government already acts as insurer of last resort with regards Bank deposits and some Insurance Policies already, without any premiums being paid. .
    Perhaps then we may have some real effort and drive put in by some Government departments and local Authorities to come up with some sensible flood prevention solutions to reduce the risk in the first place.

    Clearly if you knowingly purchase a property within a designated flood plain then that is your calculated risk, and I have little sympathy.
    But if you are already the owner of a property in an area which had no percieved risk at the time of purchase, and that risk is changed by government policy to be at risk in the future, then that is a completely different matter.

    With all of our modern technology, computer predictions, etc, etc, I do wonder why schoolboy physics seems so difficult to understand by such highly paid so called experts.

    Water finds its own level and runs downhill, if you block up or slow its normal drainage and escape route with silt, vegetation, and non porus concrete and tarmac, it finds another route.

    Any child digging moats and making sand castles on the beach soon understands water flow, and soon knows that a deeper hole holds more water.

  13. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    As to the “schemes”, we hear from Chris Smith that the Treasury requires a 800% cost to benefit ratio. I suggest the same requirement should be applied to HS2.

    If done, I forecast there will be more capital money to spend on infrastructure projects that really are needed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps they did but got the HS2 return upside down, spending about 8 times its final finished value. Also inconveniencing and blighting thousands in the process.

  14. acorn
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Nice post JR but it is too much to put on an election leaflet, you will have to make it smaller and punchier. You know the rules; you have got from the front door to the waste bin in the kitchen to get your message across on a leaflet.

    There is an opportunity here to do some fiscal stimulus and get unemployment down another 1 – 2%. You can say that in these emergency circumstances the “Osborne hysterical deficit reduction plan” (Plan A), has been suspended for two years and the crazy concept of a balanced UK budget, suspended with it.

    Nobody would blame you, in fact, you could be heroes and go into the election with GDP growing at 4%; unemployment at 5% and dropping. If we are not already close to potential GDP, (let’s face it Plan A has done significant damage), we may only have to take a little bit of inflation until the supply side cranks up. Got to be a winner; what say you?

    BTW. Unemployment occurs when the government’s budget deficit isn’t big enough.

  15. oldtimer
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Beyond dealing with the current flooding and its immediate aftermath, serious thinking needs to be devoted to the current priorities of the EA. It is clear that some communities are deemed worthy of sacrifice when it comes to flooding, even to the extent of abandoning arrangements which worked before the EA and its enabling Directives and legislation appeared on the scene. The Somerset Levels is a prime example. I suspect that the suspension of dredging on the Thames over the past 15-20 years will also have contributed to the severity of the current floods by impeding flow to the sea. Lord Smith`s replacement should have a specific remit to do this, with the necessary authority to do so.

    There should be an explicit requirement on the EA to name and advise those communities which are to be sacrificed to the flood waters in extremis – as is currently being experienced. This will have an effect on property values, insurability and will identify properties which should adopt their own flood protection measures – such as self sealing air bricks and other measures which will provide protection for a few inches of flood water.

  16. They Work for Us?
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    What is the legal position of people whose houses flood because of action by the “authorities” to save “someone else” eg villages near Winchester. Can they sue for damages?

  17. Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    To much development is being carried out without consideration of the “knock-on” effects and the cost of sorting these out usually falls on others rather than the developers. Near me there are discussions about 3-400 houses on some ex-MoD land, but seemingly the development doesn’t include schools, doctor’s surgeries, etc, although the existing ones are already overcrowded. The new properties won’t flood being on high ground, but connecting them to the existing drainage system could cause flooding lower down, where water is already coming out of drains when there is heavy rain.
    There needs to be far more consideration before permission is granted for new developments, the matter of flooding is just one of the aspects which need to be considered.

  18. Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    We could probably solve all the really serious flooding issues with an infrastructure plan that would cost a fraction of the price of HS2. Perhaps we need a few more projects like the Thames Jubilee flood channel which cost “only” £110m at 2001 prices.

    The saving to the economy of not having floods would probably be at least as much as the spurious “advantages” of having the railway line and it would also spread the employment gains far more widely than HS2 ever would.

    Finally, its the right thing to do.

  19. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Is it or is it not possible to build what I’ll call dykes (Why do we never see that word here, except in History lessons about Offa?) to keep out the sea., at least in important places? The Dutch seem to be able to do it and one reads about a long “tidal barrage” proposal around Swansea Bay (what I read on this didn’t seem to admit any possibility that the barrage per se is unfeasible). Assuming it is possible, as would seem clear, why isn’t a dyke or barrage built a little out to sea (and filled in behind??) to protect Dawlish, which all of a sudden has become the most important and vulnerable place in the entire Universe?

    • D K McGregor
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Refer you to ” Thames Barrier”

    • Posted February 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      Reports suggest that they were going to take some action to reinforce the sea wall at Dawlish but that it had been held up for at least a year while an environmental survey was carried out to ensure that no sea creatures would be harmed. This shows where the EA’s priorities lie, and its certainly not with people.

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        EP

        Exactly

        I wonder what happed to those sea creatures last week, and in the subsequent future weeks, when now a huge amount of work and disturbance will be needed for much more massive construction.

        No EA survey before WW2 when very many square miles of our Country was disturbed not only by bombs, but by us building sea defences, trenches and bunkers, airfields in rapid time etc etc..

        The wild life still survived !!!!

        Time to put people and property first.

      • Chris
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        It had apparently been held up in order to do a bird impact study, EP, according to the D Tel:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/10623109/UK-floods-Environment-Agency-accused-of-putting-birds-before-humans.html

  20. Bert Young
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Whether we have been directly affected or not will not alter the fact that all households will carry an extra burden in their future insurance costs ; the contingency fund is probably enough to deal with the help presently required , but , the amounts needed to cover dams , dredging , dykes – or whatever else is required , is a bit of a bottomless pit . I agree fully with the sentiment to cut foreign aid and to redirect it for this purpose . Trouble is we are talking about costs in the future -certainly extending beyond the period of this Government ; can we rely on the uncertainty of who will be in power to maintain the programme ? The Wythenshawe outcome shows just how uncertain our political parties are ; I would feel far more confident if the Conservatives would get into bed with UKIP .

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    If as seems likely the Jubilee River to protect Maidenhead and Windsor from flooding has to some extent had the effect of shifting the floods downstream, then it will be no surprise if action groups spring up demanding compensation from the government for the consequences of government action in building it without also upgrading the flood protection in their areas.

    And their case may be strong enough to line the pockets of lawyers for years to come, if the government isn’t prepared to entertain their claims.

    So I’m not sure that it was particularly wise of Cameron to go on Radio Berkshire and commit the government to a position of denial by saying:

    http://www.sloughobserver.co.uk/news/roundup/articles/2014/02/13/97674-flooding-update-prime-minister-david-cameron-says-lessons-will-be-learnt/

    “The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) doesn’t believe the Jubilee River causes flooding elsewhere.”

    • Chris
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      As a former Maidenhead inhabitant, I understand that the Jubilee river was considered by many Chertsey residents, flooded out in 2003, to be the cause of the flooding there.

    • APL
      Posted February 15, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Denis Cooper: “if action groups spring up demanding compensation from the government for the consequences of government action in building it without also upgrading the flood protection in their areas”

      You know what, we don’t want compensation from the government, that would be just taking money out of our own pockets ( the tax payer ) and handing it back to ourselves.

      No, we need to surcharge individuals actors in this farce. For example; the chief executive of the Environment agency, who is quoted saying to turn the Somerset levels back to their natural state “just add water”, or she’d like to see a ‘limpet mine attached to every pumping station in the levels’.

      We can do without this sort of person running the country, and there needs to be some incentive to discourage the type from holding these posts. The prospect of destitution and bankruptcy should be one such measure.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        I’d certainly agree with taking money away from public officials who fail in their duty rather than giving them more money as pay-offs.

  22. Electro-Kevin
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Salaries ?

    Workers should volunteer to do things free of charge, as some of us are at our company. This is a national crisis. A grown up attitude is required.

    Owing to the debt already in existence one expects that any existing budget has to be raided to pay for much of this. Essential provision here will have to result in cuts elsewhere, surely ?

  23. Martyn G
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    It is not for me to make judgement on whether or not the EA failed to properly manage the Somerset levels but I can and do suggest that insufficient dredging of water courses can cause problems for boaters on the non-tidal Thames. I recall the ‘summer’ of 2012 when it rained for weeks on end when Thames locks were carried yellow and red boards restricting boat movement – especially that of hired boats. Fast forward to 2013 and by mid summer lock keepers were subjected to continuing complaints from boaters (big boats usually) that they were going aground in all sorts of places.
    The point is that few realised I think just how much silt had been deposited in the river by the incessant rain, high river level and strength of the stream. Dredging did take place during 2013, but with limited resources and the huge cost of complying with EU directive to arrange the licensed disposal of the silt brought up from the river many miles away from the river, the actions taken were not altogether effective. The prize-winning sight that year was that of EA dredger barge and tug going upstream firmly aground just short of the lock it was trying to enter.
    Today, I doubt if anyone can calculate the amount of silt and changes to the river bed that will have been caused by the rain and floods and I also doubt that the EA alone will have the resources to properly survey and correct the situation, or gather in and dispose of the other junk (trees etc) deposited this year. All in all I suspect that the start of the boating 2014 season is going to be a month or two later than usual…

  24. NickW
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    If we must build houses on flood plains, we should do what sensible people do in other parts of the world and build them on stilts.

    Adaptation and resilience is the answer, not windmills and unaffordable energy.

  25. BobE
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Lib Dumbs lost deposit, ha ha. A lot of MPs will be looking over their shoulders soon. That will include those on the HS2 route. This will be a good year for the people.
    Bob

  26. Vanessa
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I see that not even you, John, are prepared to talk about the “elephant in the room” the European Union’s role in this disaster.
    Dr Richard North who talks honestly about why we have such wide spread flooding and the reasons for them.

    Reply I have commented on this.

    • Chris
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      It is a bit like Fawlty Towers in the Commons. They simply dare not mention the “War”.

    • APL
      Posted February 15, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      JR: “I have commented on this.”

      But not to the extent that is warranted by your own class implementing policies that are intended to cause the sort of disaster and disruption to ordinary peoples lives that we see in the Somerset levels today. You need to explain, or have Baroness Young explain why the political class have declared war on the ordinary people of this country!

      Have you explored the role of the Environment Agency under Baroness Young, who is quoted as saying of the Somerset levels in order to return them to their natural state “just add water” or she’d like to see “a limpet mine attached to every pumping station”.

      Have you explored the role of the European Union policy implemented by the Environment agency particularly under the leadership of the rabid Baroness, but also under successive management including Chris Smith?

      No! The topic deserves more than a few passing comments. The policy has caused disruption of peoples lives, will cause a huge negative impact on GDP, and probably lead to the suicide of more than one or two farmers.

      As a bought and paid for representative of the political class, we need a little bit more than a mere comment on this.

      References:

      http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:288:0027:0034:EN:PDF

      http://www.tauntondeane.gov.uk/irj/go/km/docs/CouncilDocuments/TDBC/Documents/Forward%20Planning/Evidence%20Base/Parret%20Catchment%20Flood%20Management%20Plan.pdf

  27. forthurst
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    “A fundamental rethink of the Environment Agency’s large £1200 million budget would be a good place to start.”

    The leadership of the EU would be incapable of running a mollusc stall, and may have more in common, intellectually, with a mollusc species such as the Depressed River Mussel whose Thames habitat would be threatened, allegedly, by dredging than with the species homo sapiens.

    Dredging, apparently, has now become ‘uneconomic’, similar to power generation, as a consequence of EU Regulations; this is because of how the silt may no longer be disposed. Typically silt is beneficial to agriculture giving rise to the one of the earliest and most successful civilisations in Egypt, although it may affect householders carpets, adversely.

    The river Thames, for many years, has had a system of locks and weirs designed to facilitate the navigation of pleasure craft. There may be a conflict between that use and that of transporting rainwater to the sea; boats do not like fast flowing currents particularly if they are trying to navigate upstream. The reduction of the flow rate must also prevent silt being carried downstream. Instead of prioritising navigation and the habitats of ‘rare’ molluscs, should not the Thames be re-engineered to operate equally as a conduit for floodwater as for a playground, with the latter given priority at times of high rainfall (and at night when pleasure craft should be moored). The weirs prevent deep water from flowing downstream, preventing the carriage of silt and excess water and opening the locks may not be a sufficient substitute; is it time to consider more advanced engineering solutions, as well as dredging, obviously.

    It is only eight thousand since we were attached to the Eurasian landmass, not nearly long enough for the evolution of new species of flora and fauna so the EA needs to stop prioritising molluscs over mankind. The best protection of our natural habitats is to stop importing foreigners and stop spraying crops with toxic chemicals.

  28. The Prangwizard
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    A lot of hysteria has been generated by a media who are always chasing sensation and controversy – in this case they are creating much of it too. It strikes me that had the jet-stream been further north as is often, but not always the case, these storms would have gone largely unreported as they would be in the north of Scotland or further up towards Iceland and thus nothing much would have been thought of them.

    The warmists are claiming therefore that the position of the Jetstream has been influenced by us all. I even heard a few weeks ago a reporter on my local TV channel – I think it was ITV (Meridian) say that there would be more volcanic eruptions, now I believe Stern is forecasting war. And the leader of the Greens thinks sceptics should be purged from all positions of influence. She has the same intolerant mindset as Stalin when he purged the counter-revolutionaries. Just the bullets are missing for the moment.

    That’s who should pay in her world view.

    • Mark
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Ms Bennet knows that attack is the best form of defence – no Mr Darcy to the rescue! (a Darcy is a unit of geological permeability)

      It is of course the Greens who have secured power without election who should be sidelined, or at least monitored by others. Greens do not believe in democracy, it seems.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Lots of microphones held into the wind for dramatic effect on the tv news I note.

  29. Max Dunbar
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    This will happen again despite vast expenditure on flood prevention. You may as well try to stop the tide coming in – futile. Just don’t build on flat low lying land next to slow flowing rivers unless you are prepared to spend more on the house and put it either on stilts or on top of a massive pile of compacted rock, and even then you could be in for trouble.

  30. Mark B
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    If the people of Somerset were made responsible for the management of their flood planes, as they once were, then I very much doubt that this would happen again.

    What we see here, is a Quango that takes orders/instructions from the EU, bypassing Westminster, and carrying out their own policies using taxpayers monies to boot. Those very same taxpayers who are now suffering at the hands of these people.

    It is therefore high-time that we looked at the EA and its structure, and consider breaking it up into regions where Local and County Authorities can plan and administer suitable arrangements regarding flooding and the overall environment.

    Too many times we has seen when large bodies, which over time grow to enormous sizes and ever increasing remits and costs, end up becoming the problem rather than the solution to whatever falls under their shadow.

    What I am suggesting is that, the EA be broken up into regional areas and placed under the control of their respective Local or County Authorities with, the funding coming from local taxation and ‘some’ central Government funding.

    This disaster WAS preventable and, had local people and authorities had both the power and the monies, they would have been able to deal with it much sooner and at far lower resulting cost.

  31. Mockbeggar
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Part of the problem in Somerset is caused by farmers being subsidised to grow maize instead of grass to produce either silage for dairy cattle or to go into anaerobic digesters to produce heavily subsidised electricity. I don’t blame the farmers; they are merely in business to maximise profits like any other business. The exposed topsoil is then flushed into the rivers (mainly the Tone in the case of Somerset) and causing it to silt up. That’s why the rivers are running red – the colour of the sandstone topsoil.

    Like everything in science and engineering, the problem is always a bit more complicated than it first appears.

    The Romney and Walland Marshes (which admittedly haven’t had quite as much rainfall as Somerset) have suffered no major problems so far. There is a fair amount of surface water, but nothing really as bad. The river Rother which is the main drain (via Rye Harbour) for the marshes is, like the Parrett, below sea level at high spring tides. The Environment Agency installed a lock (Scott’s Float) some years ago to prevent water coming too far upstream. The river is held back until high tide has passed and then released as the tide recedes. The surge of water scours the river bed in a more environmentally friendly way than dredging. That, and a series of strategically placed Archimedes pumps seems to work pretty well. I believe that a similar barrage is now being considered for the Parrett. The topography and the problem will, of course, be different from the Rother, but it seems to me to be the best long term solution.

    • APL
      Posted February 15, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Mockbegger: “farmers being subsidised to grow”

      That is the State and its perverse incentives, for you. Growing foodstuffs to be destroyed via an even more expensive and subsidised energy programme.

      By now it must be apparent to anyone, that anything the government touches turns to s**t, the answer is not to have it interfere in more things, but to limit its ability to interfere in anything at all. We’d all be better off.

      • Bob
        Posted February 15, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink


        By now it must be apparent to anyone, that anything the government touches turns to s**t, the answer is not to have it interfere in more things, but to limit its ability to interfere in anything at all. We’d all be better off.

        Agreed.

  32. waramess
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Fine words butter no parsnips and whilst politicians hold their meetings millions suffer.

    These are the politicians who believe in global warming and were allegedly warned fifteen years ago to plan for extreme weather patterns of hot dry summers and mild wet winters.

    Well here it is at last, global warming or not and what have politicians done in preperation for the day? Windmills and solar power!

    These mad dogs are busily trying to prevent climate change rather than accommodate and manage it.

    Canute would have taught them all a very valuable lesson as he was said to have taught his courtiers – forget it, it can’t be done.

    Whether or not this is man made global warming matters not a hoot, trying to bring all the industrial nations together as one would be like herding cats.

    Get on with the job of accommodating climate change and dump the green crap and we will all be better off.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Indeed as you say:-

      “Whether or not this is man made global warming matters not a hoot, trying to bring all the industrial nations together as one would be like herding cats”.

      The idea that we should prevent flood in Somerset by reducing CO2 using wind farms etc. (that do not actually save much if any CO2) is totally bonkers.

  33. Richard Thompson
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I know that flooding is a matter that you take very seriously and I am sure that you are aware that there has been substantial flood-related expense and economic damage. However there is a good argument to show that current environmental policies are responsible for some of the problems. Land under trees absorbs far more water than does grassland, so headwaters of rivers should be wooded and trees should be used to prevent flooding all over our country. Indeed I am told that that is something taught to every geography student in the land. What a pity it has not been taught to our Secretary of State for the Environment.

    Current policies make it more economic for farmers to remove trees, the consequences are borne by us all in terms of disruption, insurance premiums and damage, bringing misery all round. What should be an amazing and beautiful natural phenomenon becomes a rod to beat us with.

    Please read the following article
    Drowning in money: the untold story of the crazy public spending that makes flooding inevitable, published in The Guardian, page 30, Tuesday January 14th 2014. You will find a well-crafted argument which makes very good sense.

    The article is to be found, fully referenced at http://www.monbiot.com/2014/01/13/drowning-in-money/

    The guardian reference is http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/13/flooding-public-spending-britain-europe-policies-homes

    It is an article that should not be ignored by any MP who would wish to do the best they can for their country.

    Please let me know what you will be doing to help deal with the flooding problem in this constituency and whether you can see any way to get some of the ideas in the article into the mainstream. It is obvious that to
    implement some of the ideas it will be necessary to make some helpful changes to EU rules, at the least to radically alter the subsidy system:
    1. Cap the amount that any one landowner can receive. Perhaps at €50k a year? At the moment there is no cap, which means that some landowners get millions every year.
    2. Remove the unwanted vegetation rule.
    3. Tie the whole system to delivering public goods, with flood prevention high on the list.

    It would be a fine thing to see our Prime Minister berating the EU for its policies that might be changed and trying to get the changes implemented for good, scientific reasons, rather than to see him slavishly following the fear of UKIP and trying to tinker with the benefit system for migrants, a policy that is sure to backfire in the long run – but that is another story! It would be heroic to solve the flooding problem and the misuse and expense of EU subsidies at a stroke, as I am sure you will agree.

    I look forward to hearing from you on this matter as soon as is practical.

  34. Posted February 15, 2014 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Having seen for myself the devastation that can be caused by flooding, I can’t understand how anyone could begrudge whatever financial support the government deems necessary to help the victims.

    But, I’d just make the point that whereas the pre-flood economy was cash strapped, with no money available, suddenly, in the post- flood economy, “Money is no object” and we are told how the UK is wealthy nation.

    This rather undermines the austerity message, for it shows what was always true. The UK isn’t living beyond its means. There are million of workers who aren’t given anything to do. Industry is operating at much less than full capacity. There’s plenty of unused resources.

  35. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 15, 2014 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    I read that our Government is thinking of applying for EU funds to finance our flood clear up costs. That would be a bad move.

  36. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Dear John–Just realised that you have sat on my comment about the EA’ s perfectly ridiculous encouraging women to go fishing instead of all the other obvious and important stuff they should be doing. I have detected that you do not treat women as real people (to quote the Fonz) when it comes to the slightest criticism of them. They are only to be identical when it suits apparently.

    Reply I deleted it because it generalised about women in a condescending way.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Actually it was very specific. The idea of encouraging women to go fishing is utterly fatuous and it was even more fatuous that the EA of all people should think it one of their functions to promote artificial identity in this way. Condescension is OK provided it is true.

  37. Chris
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Very significant article this morning in Mail on Sunday about flooding in Wraysbury and Datchet and apparent link to Jubilee River, Maidenhead/Windsor. The Wraysbury part of the flood scheme i.e. their own flood channel, similar to the Jubilee, was abandoned apparently and they suffer because the flow from the Jubilee is let in to the Thames just upstream. Adam Afriyie on the case.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2560311/The-wrath-Wraysbury-We-drowned-Gin-Jag-set-Windsor-Eton-dry.html

    One message is clear from all of this, these piecemeal schemes can have serious damage on other areas, so one might save one area from flooding, but the excess water has to go somewhere, and if it is just diverted to further downstream then those areas will then be subjected to flooding. apparently the Jubilee River was meant to be part of 4 schemes, ending up at the mouth of the Thames, but never completed. They used to dredge the river instead not so long ago…

  38. Ray
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    A few recent key stats for the Environment Agency:

    £395 million on wages (£592 million incl pensions) vs £219 million on capital projects + £20 million on maintaining rivers
    £5 million spent on redundancies but permanent workforce increased from 10,701 to 11,177 in the past year
    The real employment levels at Environment Agency actually stood at 12,252 people (temps and contractor personnel)
    Budget and staffing levels that rival French, Danish, German, Swedish, Austrian and Canadian Environment Agencies COMBINED
    Directors at the agency declined bonuses but 38 managers shared a pool of £334,000
    Past two years, 14 employees left with six-figure cheques, some in excess of £150,000
    Spending on maintaining culverts and channels to help the flow of watercourses dipped by £1.3 million last year
    £3.6 million was trimmed off the budget to build or improve embankments that protect communities from floods
    Environment Agency spent hundreds on ‘equali-tea’ gay awareness mugs… and £30,000 on gay pride marches
    Spent over £250k from 2011 to mid-2012 on meetings at private venues, despite having over two dozen offices around the country
    Nearly 7,000 vehicles (plus trucks) – more than one official vehicle for every two employees
    Environment Agency bosses spent £2.4 million on PR alone (excluding staff wages) but refused £1.7million dredging in Somerset
    Single water abstraction licence for Avoncliff costing £152 cost the taxpayer ~£611,000-£1.5 million
    A £2 million Environment Agency case ended with a fine of just £1,000
    20-25% of business travel costs lost to fraudulent cases costing an estimated £1.8-£4.5 million
    Significant number of man-hours lost in abuse of flexi time, home working and annual leave

  39. Chris
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    A suitable use of taxpayers’ money by the Environment Agency e.g. sponsoring a gay pride march (£30,000, plus T shirts, banners etc); distributing amongst members of staff “equali tea” gay awareness mugs? The Tshirts apparently displayed the EA logo. I think this is misappropriation/diversion of funds, and should be dealt with harshly.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2560300/Why-did-floods-agency-spend-hundreds-equali-tea-gay-awareness-mugs-30-000-gay-pride-marches-As-Britain-counts-cost-shoddy-defences-reveal-bizarre-spending-quango-bosses.html?ico=home^editors_choice_six_of_the_best
    “Why did floods agency spend hundreds on ‘equali-tea’ gay awareness mugs… and £30,000 on gay pride marches? As Britain counts cost of shoddy defences, we reveal bizarre spending by quango bosses.
    Investigation shows the Environment Agency, headed by Lord Chris Smith – Britain’s first openly gay Cabinet Minister – spent £639 on gay rights mugs
    EA also spent £30,000 sponsoring Birmingham’s Gay Pride festival in 2009
    Comes as EA faces growing criticism of its handling of the flooding crisis.”

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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