Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Top British government officials have predictably blamed Climate Change for severe flooding which has afflicted England in recent weeks. But there has also been strong criticism of river management policies.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald;
London: Climate change is forcing England to re-assess its flood defences in the face of unprecedented river level surges, one of the United Kingdom government’s most senior environment officials says.
“We are moving from a period of known extremes into a period of unknown extremes,” said David Rooke, deputy chief executive of the UK government’s Environment Agency, which manages the country’s rivers.
“We will need to re-assess all the defences right across the country.”
He linked the devastating Boxing Day floods, still engulfing swathes of the country, to climate change.
“What we are seeing are record river levels,” he told BBC Radio. “We saw in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire levels that were a foot to two feet higher that we’d seen previously. We’ve seen similar again in Cumbria and elsewhere right across the north.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/unprecedented-flooding-in-britain-prompts-renewed-discussion-about-climate-change-20151228-glw0lw.html
There is another side to this story. Local farmer, historian and author Phillip Walling provides some background on the disastrous river management policies imposed by the bureaucratic European Union, which likely exacerbated the floods (h/t James Delingpole).
It was obvious to people, who depended on the land for their living that failing to keep the rivers clear of sand and gravel would cause them to burst their banks and destroy in a few hours fertility that had taken generations to create, wash away their houses, and drown their livestock.
Last century the obligation to dredge out the rivers was transferred to local river boards, consisting of farmers and landowners who knew the area and its characteristics, and who had statutory responsibilities to prevent or minimise flooding.
But all this changed with the creation of the Environment Agency in 1997 and when we adopted the European Water Framework Directive in 2000. No longer were the authorities charged with a duty to prevent flooding. Instead, the emphasis shifted, in an astonishing reversal of policy, to a primary obligation to achieve ‘good ecological status’ for our national rivers. This is defined as being as close as possible to ‘undisturbed natural conditions’. ‘Heavily modified waters’, which include rivers dredged or embanked to prevent flooding, cannot, by definition, ever satisfy the terms of the directive. So, in order to comply with the obligations imposed on us by the EU we had to stop dredging and embanking and allow rivers to ‘re-connect with their floodplains’, as the currently fashionable jargon has it.
And to ensure this is done, the obligation to dredge has been shifted from the relevant statutory authority (now the Environment Agency) onto each individual landowner, at the same time making sure there are no funds for dredging. And any sand and gravel that might be removed is now classed as ‘hazardous waste’ and cannot be deposited to raise the river banks, as it used to be, but has to be carted away.
Read more: https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/what-the-authorities-wont-tell-you-about-the-floods/
What’s disappointing, is that this is not the first time the EU directive which discourages proper dredging has been identified as an issue. However, there is very little ordinary people can do to fix this mess.
The European Union, which has ambitions to bind members into a new superstate, which would include all of Europe, parts of Asia, and potentially also include Russia and her allies, is not a very democratic institution. There is no “EU River Management Official” whom ordinary people can vote out of office. While there is an elected European Parliament, the parliament is virtually toothless – it has no real oversight powers, and no power to source new legislation. All new laws are proposed by a soviet style central committee, the European Commission, which also has responsibility for overseeing implementation of the laws.
Back in October, WUWT reported how an Egyptian official tried to blame flooding on climate change, in my opinion to deflect attention from the disastrous state of local drains. The Egyptian official was forced to resign. It seems unlikely anyone in Britain or Europe will be forced to resign, because of mismanagement of Britain’s waterways.