With thousands of homes along the River Thames threatened following exceptional rainfall, the Government is at last taking flooding seriously – if not climate change. ‘Exceptional’ floods in 2000, 2007, 2012 (wettest year on record) and now 2014 (wettest winter on record) tell us more about our changing climate than attempts by Eric Pickles to blame the flooding onto the Environment Agency or the absence of dredging.
The 2006 Stern Report on the economics of climate change and the Pitt Report following the 2007 floods made detailed recommendations. Yet politicians continue to prioritise economic growth and concreting over more land above work to slow catchment runoff and defend vital transport links like the main railway line at Dawlish.
River dredging might have had limited benefit in Somerset last year but wasn’t done due to government spending constraints. Now government money will pour into flood work in Somerset and the South East. Yet a former Environment Agency engineer for the Somerset levels has described dredging as a teacup in a swimming pool and a waste of public funds. He says that the rivers are tidal and any dredging would be undone in a few months as the sea deposits silt back up the river.
How extreme does the weather need to get before we heed scientists’ recommendations to cut the burning of fossil fuels? Let’s invest for green jobs in renewables, public transport, sustainable buildings etc, rather than fracking and other policies that will make matters worse.
Cllr Susan Murray
Lewes Green Party