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« Shout out for Donna | Main | Diggin' in the dirt »
Saturday
Jan112014

Flooding flak

Inside the Environment Agency has collated a fascinating collection of stories in the local media about the floods. You get the impression that outside the insular world of London liberal media folk the story is about the performance of the agency rather than Owen Paterson's belief or otherwise in climate change.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (38)

There's a clear and persistent pattern to a lot of the complaints. The Environment Agency blocks a lot of sensible preventative maintenance that landowners and farmers would willingly do, except for the mountains of forms that have to be filled in, then inspected by EA people who have control but no responsibility.

Jan 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/10928814.Reporting_live_as_the_flooding_in_Worcestershire_peaks_today__including_your_pictures_and_tweets/?ref=mr
"The folk of Worcester keeping a sense of humour - they've seen it all before"
Indeed we have - most years.
Interestingly many of these fantastic pictures were taken by 'drone aircraft'.
Private Eye reported that the new management team at the Daily Telegraph will be using drones for news gathering.
Feather in the cap then of Worcester Evening News, beating the 'Daily Warmograph' to it.
Readers will have noticed that this latter 'rag' have appointed a new 'science correspondent' Sarah Napton, who is a re-incarnation of the awful Louise Gray.
She has rushed to praise Stott and Allen with a piece entitled - 'Met Office warms to Cameron's climate change suspicions'.

Jan 11, 2014 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

insidetheenvironmentagency is doing a great job

But it's not just Environment Agency how about Natural England who don't want farmers and other land owners to dredge rivers for fear for of disturbing water voles

Humans - who cares about them

Time for another whistleblower?

For those who don't know between them DEFRA EA and NE have created a 100 year plan, SMP2, which details how to knock down sea defences in order to flood farm land (near coast and rivers) in an attempt to recreate saltmarsh (aka intertidal habitat). Suprise surpise another EU directive

Jan 11, 2014 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Shiers

No doubt the Insurance Industry will soon be whingeing that the inevitable claims will 'force' it to increase premiums again.

Does anyone recall them reducing premiums after one of the many years without severe flooding?

Jan 11, 2014 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Jan 11, 2014 at 4:49 PM | toad

Interestingly many of these fantastic pictures were taken by 'drone aircraft'. Private Eye reported that the new management team at the Daily Telegraph will be using drones for news gathering.

Interestingly, the US Federal Aviation Administration strictly ban the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems:

http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/uas_faq/index.cfm

COA = certificate of authorization = waiver

Since the FAA is much more permissive that the EU authorities - watch this space.

Jan 11, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

toad reports

a new 'science correspondent' Sarah Napton, who is a re-incarnation of the awful Louise Gray.

I wonder whether these are affectionate names given to their semi-automatic press-release processing software which takes incoming from the eco-alarm industry and converts it into articles. I've noticed The Scotsman newspaper has the same kind of app, enhanced with some kind of auto-dial feature to obtain and include comments from either or both of Friends of the Earth and the WWF. I'm guessing they use some kind of voice-recognition software to validate their inputs before going to press.

Jan 11, 2014 at 6:21 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

The Environment Agency is grossly over-staffed and over-funded (in direct comparison to other countries', even when taking coastline, wetlands, etc. into account). But they are hamstrung by EU regulations, whic the UK interpret more strictly than most of the rest of Europe. Clearing river banks, dredging, etc., are resisted for species preservation, which is a noble aim, but detrimental to flood victims.

Jan 11, 2014 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd P

Ed P : 'they are hamstrung by EU regulations, whic[h] the UK interpret more strictly than most of the rest of Europe'

How true - it has just struck me that, just as Clegg is Cameron's excuse for being such a wet, maybe the EU is the excuse of serial UK governments for their near-traitorous anti-UK legislation. Maybe, just maybe, if we ever got out of the EU, things would get even worse - our government would lose its petticoat, but would it then just carry out its true goals even more relentlessly, blowing all caution to the winds?

Jan 11, 2014 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Jan 11, 2014 at 6:21 PM | John Shad

On the difference between “a new ‘science correspondent’ Sarah Napton” and “the awful Louise Gray”:

Sarah Napton [is a] satan orphan [whereas]
Louise Gray [] argues oily [in] royal guise

Jan 11, 2014 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Well

For those who don't know between them DEFRA EA and NE have created a 100 year plan, SMP2, which details how to knock down sea defences in order to flood farm land (near coast and rivers) in an attempt to recreate saltmarsh (aka intertidal habitat). Suprise surpise another EU directive.
Jan 11, 2014 at 4:59 PM | Jeremy Shiers

Does this mean they wish to reintroduce malaria?

Jan 11, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Ian E

It's not a question of "stricter" interpretation that the rest of Europe - it's arbitrarily adding stuff to extend their bureaucratic influence and bloat budgets. In the EA's case officials have been known to simply make stuff up that's miles beyond any statutory mandate they have - and when challenged they resort to the bullying and worse that is part of what Henry & Co at Inside The Environment Agency are whistleblowing about.

What you're seeing above is I suspect the tip of an iceberg. The incompetence displayed by many officials (not all) is epic - as is the obstructiveness and obstinacy displayed (and sanctioned by managers) when the victims of their actions have the temerity to challenge their whims...

There's an urban myth doing the rounds that they tried to fine a hydro electric turbine operator for "exceeding the licensed flow of water" during a flood.

Meanwhile the media (Loubie-Loo et al) keep treating us to stuff like this

Allan M - if people actually appreciated the scope of Natural England's recent attempt at a coastal land grab - there's be a revolution ! AFAICS They wanted to block public access to the coastline from Pembrokeshire to Essex - they have not given up on that aspiration.

Jan 11, 2014 at 7:52 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Allan,
Ague?
Alan.

Jan 11, 2014 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

News Story 3 - ITS FROM DECEMBER 16TH
A commenter calls the Alkborough Flats EA flagship project a disaster. Their idea was to save upstream York from flooding by lowering the banks here and creating a floodbasin from farmland. This time seens the water has come up from dowstream and flooded the floodbasin and more, killed 107 sheep in area that didn't used to flood. (warning not early enough ?)
- Scunthorpe Telegraph is written by cut & pasters 100 miles away in Leicster. North Lincs councillors behave as if they are in planning permission scams with property investors

Jan 11, 2014 at 8:21 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Add to that their performance in Leigh, Kent, where they opened the flood barrier on Christmas Eve after the flood reservoir filled up over a couple of days. The story told to the subsequently flooded residents of Hildenborough and Tonbridge was that there was no warning given as they did not want to cause alarm. Madness.

Jan 11, 2014 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Smith

Ian E said:

Allan M - if people actually appreciated the scope of Natural England's recent attempt at a coastal land grab - there's be a revolution ! AFAICS They wanted to block public access to the coastline from Pembrokeshire to Essex - they have not given up on that aspiration.

That sounds like a conspiracy theory. If you had said from "Cornwall to Essex" I would have wondered exactly what they are planning, but as you said "Pembrokeshire to Essex" the story is obviously untrue. It might have escaped your notice that the stretch of coast from Pembrokeshire to Monmouthshire would be the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly, and not Natural England.

Jan 11, 2014 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Do you ever get the feeling that you're trapped in a Terry Gilliam movie?

Jan 11, 2014 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Roy

Ha! indeed - guilty... although I'm not sure that Natural England are aware of the distinction :-) since a whole host of other Agencies were involved and a bunch of built for purpose bureaucracies were spawned in the run - up to the attempt at legislation. see extents here

It's a sprawling / complicated topic - but I saw some proposals for the Solent which seemed to be overly restrictive - verging on draconian in terms of access to the foreshore / nearshore and the whole thing seemed contrived in such a fashion as to be infinitely expandable and misanthropic in tone.

It got knocked back - but they're working on it....

I did think after reading some of it that I might eventually get arrested for annoying a seagull.

jorgekafkazar
It sometimes seems The Environment Agency might well have taken "Central Services" from Gilliam's Brazil as a role model.

Jan 11, 2014 at 10:26 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Jonathan Smith

Just one month before the latest Tonbridge floods, the EA invited residents to see how well in hand it all was...

http://www.fadsdirectory.com/news/tonbridge-7m-flood-protection-plans-on-display

Jan 11, 2014 at 10:28 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

The EA, is where ex greenpeace warriors retire to end up after a youth and tweens spent fighting in the trenches and at Balcombe, because the EU-common purpose ordain's that, there must be and due reward and pensions for the sock puppetry little darlings - eh?

What we want, what is actually required we do not get:

1. dredge major river channels - now.
2. limit all building on floodplains, improve rainfall run-off limitation to prevent storm run-off entering the stream system too quickly.
3. where bogs and marshes have been drained in upper catchment areas [as in many areas of Yorkshire] - reconstitute said marshes.
4. In the upper levels of major catchment basins - plant some [thousands] trees.
5. Re-engineer some ancient bridges, build overflow, by pass storm channels so that old bridges do not block channels in spate events.

6. It ain't rocket science.
7. we cannot always hope to control and contain nature but we can be more practical - houses near to river courses - build em on stilts, on high banks, read the signs of historical spates [they are there] and do not take mother nature for granted.

Jan 12, 2014 at 1:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

... the new management team at the Daily Telegraph will be using drones for news gathering.

Copycats -- the Guardian and BBC have been doing that for over 30 years.

Jan 12, 2014 at 7:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Athelstan

I would not disagree with any of your points but would highlight this;

"2. limit all building on floodplains, improve rainfall run-off limitation to prevent storm run-off entering the stream system too quickly."

Our current levels of population growth-for whatever reasons-makes this impossible as many more houses are needed and we are running out of easily buildable sites. This is largely a political decision which would mean changing those aspects of house building that we can control, which means curbing immigration.

You will remember John Prescott's plans to build 100,000 homes in East London most of which was on a flood plain.

tonyb

Jan 12, 2014 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

tomo

I was sceptical about your comment about natural England. It seems there is a new document from them about opening up the coast further. Its as follows;

PDF]
NE446:Coastal Access - Natural England Publications and Products


publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/5352294828736512‎

The bureaucratic mind is a convoluted beast and like the EA I am sure NE are capable of interpreting things in a manner inconsistent with their brief. So, they need to be watched, but I cant see any signs that there is any concerted effort to restrict access at present.
tonyb

Jan 12, 2014 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Christopher Booker is on to the case as well about the silting and lack of drainage of rivers.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/10565247/Flooding-chaos-is-down-to-David-Cameron-not-climate-change.html

"Flooding chaos is down to David Cameron, not climate change

The Environment Agency's failure to dredge clogged-up rivers is causing floods"

Perhaps he should have added as well as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

To me government officials (ministers and officials) have lost their common sense and have a peculiar perception of reality.

Jan 12, 2014 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

The argument is from Global Warming. Its not often stated explicitly but it goes something like, there is no point trying to maintain the sea defences because sea levels will rise by so much they will be overwhelmed anyway, so what we should do is stop now, and let Norfolk and Suffolk coastal areas revert to marsh. The East Anglian plan which they tried to get adopted would have abandoned the Broads and huge swathes of prime farmland to sea flooding. It is true that in Suffolk and places in Norfolk they have attempted to stop local people putting in or maintaining sea defences.

Jan 12, 2014 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

Agenda 21 at play?

Jan 12, 2014 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon

8:28 AM tonyb

Aye - I read that, some other coastal path stuff and some European Coastal Access strategy stuff. They must be in a different set of offices :-) - there seems plenty of scope for left hand <> right hand confusion.

It would seem that there are considerable targeted project budgets to be mopped up by Natural England and their chums at JNCC and NERC.

I've had a commenter at one of my places who used George Monbiot's "re-wilding" lexicon to propose the removal of all weirs and sea defence structures.

Damian Carrington wasn't happy with the MCZ outcome last year and some of his colleagues have covered the Coastal Access path project There is the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive which to me looks like a gold plater's tour guide.... A funding treasure hunt?

Jan 12, 2014 at 9:41 AM | Registered Commentertomo

@michel

EA do explicitly state they have to follow DEFRA guidance over projections of future sea level rise first DEFRA 2006 now DEFRA2009 (aka ukcp09). Bizzarely DEFRA2009/ukcp09 sea level rise projections were produced by Met Office (Jason Lowe).

I live in Essex which is covered by SMP8. Table 2.3 explicitly quotes DEFRA2006. Figure 2.7 purports to show actual rates of sea level rise. I have been able to show the calculations that produced this figure have basic blunder in them which means rate of sea level rise shown is about twice the actual rate for 3 of the 4 locations.

Both DEFRA2006 and 2009 projections actually start from 1990 so simply by comparing projections with tide gauge measurements it is clear DEFRA projections are way to high. Moreover there is no sign of any acceleration in rate of sea level rise apart from period 1992-1998. After mount pinatubo erupted sea levels around world actually fell, after which they bounced back. Then in 1998 there was an unusually strong El Nino which caused sea levels to rise.

If accelerating rates of sea level rise are predicted by IPCC global warming then surely the complete absence of any sign of long term acceleration in sea level rise is a fatal blow for global warming

I have pointed out the lack any evidence for acceleration in rate of sea level rise to EA many times. They stick to their mantra

1 We have to follow DEFRA projections
2 We will have to accept you and EA have different views of sea level rise

Jan 12, 2014 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Shiers

Jeremy Shiers

1 If accelerating rates of sea level rise are predicted by IPCC global warming then surely the complete absence of any sign of long term acceleration in sea level rise is a fatal blow for global warming
Therefore no such absence can be permitted.
2 We will have to accept you and EA have different views of sea level rise
Now there's a f***ing stupid remark (forgive me!) if ever I heard one. Sea level is doing what it is doing. It is going up or it isn't. But see 1 above!
Meanwhile major chunks of the UK environment are about to be destroyed because government departments are locked into a sort of treadmill of dubious factoids.
I do hope that when Greenpeace, FoE and others (including DEFRA and the EA) finally wake up to the damage they have done to the very thing they are supposed to be protecting that they are truly repentant. That would at least be a start.
A shrug and "we had to destroy the environment in order to save it" seem more likely.

Jan 12, 2014 at 11:57 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@Mike Jackson

you can include RSPB in your list

there seems to be little or no public awareness of how people move from campaigning groups such as RSPB to organisations such as DEFRA were they can write government policy

In some cases people then leave and become subcontractors implementing the policy they themselves wrote

here's one

http://elmtwo.com/curriculum-vitae

Making space for water - ha

Oh and there's Baroness thingy

Jan 12, 2014 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Shiers

Sorry, Jeremy, how could I possibly have forgotten our friends at the Royal Society for the Propagation of Bulls**t?
Interesting link. My first reaction was what the hell is a "chartered environmentalist" but apparently there is an Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management which was granted a Royal Charter last year.
Collins does seem to be one of those who, if there is a God, will one day have his vital parts crushed in that revolving door he lives in!
"... coastal management, wetland policy development and environmental appraisal", eh? We can only pray that the environment is robust enough to withstand the onslaught!

Jan 12, 2014 at 2:12 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

" It might have escaped your notice that the stretch of coast from Pembrokeshire to Monmouthshire would be the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly, and not Natural England."

Water doesn't care.

Water always wins.

Jan 12, 2014 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

Jeremy Shiers

Are you aware of this? - a whole year of time on the Met Office Supercomputer apparently......

Still no sin of the technical document AFAICS

Jan 12, 2014 at 6:06 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Jan 12, 2014 at 6:06 PM | tomo

I downloaded a 55MB document from your second link.

Jan 12, 2014 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

BL

You'll see that the "TE2100 Technical Report" is referenced 22 times in that November 2012 55MB 228 page plan document - this has to be the bit containing the numbers (and provenance thereof) used to estimate the threat and the consequent sizing of the works and it must be in part contain the output from 60,000 hours of "Met Office Supercomputer" right?

I've been scratching around for several months seeing if the document turns up online (even in bits...) with the proffered title and up to now coming up empty handed

Am I being uneasonable expecting to easily locate a document that is named and referenced publicly by a government department as pivotal in the spending of billions of pounds ? They've obviously lavished considerable production talent on the plan "booklet" itself.

Jan 12, 2014 at 10:54 PM | Registered Commentertomo

A small factoid from the grim reaches of Wigan near me.
Disregarding flood plains. A lot of low and flat land flooding is not always created *in* the low and flat lands.
Where I live, the river Douglas was navigable even after the canals came into being. But no more.
This river does a 270 degree run around the outskirts of the town. In the past years floods happened every year without let up near the Robin park area as it straightened up for the run to the coast.

However, the past several decades North of Wigan there has been untoward pressure to build housing at a place called Standish. Everyone thought it was a posh place to be. Now all the road and roof flash flooding from over a square mile of estates empty straight into the upstream river Douglas. In town has been silting up through the decades. Near the law courts there are trees growing out of the paved river bed. A hundred metres further back it is damned off creating areas where silting up occurs.

Only when the A49 trunk road into Wigan was continually blocked off under the railway bridge and threatening the football matches and soaked the brand new shopping centre did the town of shame do something about it.

To think there are well paid people, "engineers" responsible for "sustainable development" boggles the mind!

Jan 13, 2014 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyj

All this policy, based upon computer model projections about Global Warming, when at the end of 2012, the Wet Office had to report to DEFRA, why we had such a wet year, interestingly after one FW at said WO claimed that the February drought could last until December 2012, that was the point that the heavens opened! They laid excuse upon excuse as to why it was so difficult to predict weather, suggesting that they hadn't an effing clue as to what actually drives climate!

Jan 13, 2014 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Jan 12, 2014 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered Commenter tonyb

Youĺl find that many sites now recognise when files are accessed and act to limit that access, by removing the file/s from search...as in natural england

Jan 13, 2014 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

1:49 PM John

At the EA site it's not unusual to find a file referenced in public - only to find that the download linked is on the internal intranet... Another tactic that is exceptionally frustrating is to give things utterly meaningless file names seemingly derived from Adobe licence numbers and make the code to reach the file quite tortured so that search engines give up...

Jan 13, 2014 at 8:15 PM | Registered Commentertomo

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