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« The greens and the fascists | Main | Happy Christmas! »

The EU's role in the floods

With a bit of luck, BH readers should by now have worked off the excesses of Christmas and be ready to return to the fray.

With flooding back in the news, I thought it might be useful to point readers to this very interesting piece from a couple of weeks ago, which considers the European Union's role in causing the floods.

[I]n 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.

And all paid for by you.

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Reader Comments (65)

tomo, local authority planners are under political pressure (from politicians at local, county and national levels, and ALL parties) to get new housing built.

It is less hassle for planners to say 'Yes' than 'No', to housing schemes and wind turbines. Saying 'No' to fracking has been made easier than 'Yes'.

I make these comments without singling out any political party. They are all equally guilty, and can cite local v. national interest, whichever is the more convenient at the time

Dec 29, 2015 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Flood plains are defined by the evidence of past flooding. Future flooding is to be expected unless prevented by EA intervention and vigilance. Living on a flood plain places you at the mercy of the EA, not of the weather. As the EA has proven to have failed in this task, reform and redirection is necessary. The savings made by reform of this incompetent quango should go to its victims.

Dec 30, 2015 at 6:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat


that "reform and redirection" public service territory you infer is the central point. This isn't going to be easy - the dysfunctional bureaucratic organisations involved will resist mightily and the incumbent populations of bureaucrats will inevitably be part of any solution.

It is an absolutely huge, sprawling issue.

We have seen failing state organs like UK borders Agency disbanded - only to see them rise again with revised branding and with all the reasons they were shut down still intact + firing on all cylinders.

Good, competent and honorable insiders know what should be done but lack the mandate and real support from our (mostly ignorant and spineless) politicians - any reform will be a Herculean task.

I prattle here regularly about The Civil Servant's Code of Conduct - I believe actual enforcement of that would be a reasonable starting point. We know abuses and serial incompetence go unrewarded in our public services and immunity for the consequences has gotten to be a perk of the job (like early retirement+pensions) - the lengths gone to to "disappear" the worst operators behind the scenes is epic and what little I've seen convinces me that change on a pretty grand scale is required...

We reward our public servants in general rather well - that they are insulated from the consequences of their foul ups makes them complacent and careless (OK... and worse) - this really has to change.

Dec 30, 2015 at 9:47 AM | Registered Commentertomo

As a resource it seems to be evolving steadily - it does raise some questions though...

When will the loop between rainfall radar and water gauges be closed?

How many people do Shoothill employ vs. how many PR and communications goons in the EA feed off it?

Why only Facebook?

Dec 30, 2015 at 10:26 AM | Registered Commentertomo

After Dame Julia convened her emergency conference I looked at the historical record for winter rain.

You can see my results at
Suggests all is normal.

Further to the photo of the flooded field, it is true. I makes you wonder how they got planning permission for a field in a flood plain.,%20Lancashire&lang=_e&layerGroups=default&distance=&textonly=off

Also near us planning permission given for this flood plain,2,10,&scale=9

Dec 30, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdrian Kerton

Stuff on Page 20 is worth a look especially with the focus in this on meeting the EU water directive.

"In Montgomeryshire, the Pumlumon Project31 is working with local farmers, foresters and tourism businesses
across 150 square miles of the Cambrian mountains, changing upland management to reduce flooding, as
well as boosting the local economy, improving carbon storage and supporting wildlife, by:
• Blocking ditches that drain peat bogs;
• Restoring acid grassland, hedgerows and upland woodland;
• Improving infiltration by changing grazing regimes, reducing stocking densities and planting broadleaf
trees; and
• Buffering rivers and streams.
In the Peak District, the Making Space for Water project32 is restoring degraded moorland to retain water on
the land by:
• Blocking erosion gullies; and
• Re-establishing vegetation on bare soils.
In Pickering, in North Yorkshire, the Slowing the Flow Pickering project33 is working to reduce the frequency of
future floods in Pickering, as well as delivering a range of other environmental and community benefits, by:
• Constructing low level embankments;
• Creating riparian and floodplain woodland;
• Restoring a large woody debris dam;
• Undertaking farm-scale targeted planting and the creation of infiltration basins;
• Blocking moorland drains;
• Establishing no-burn zones along moorland streams; and
• Restoring streamside buffer zones along forest streams."

Dec 30, 2015 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaceF


These good points. All of the above can be designed and evaluated prior to execution by doing flood plain studies with hydrologic tools available for decades.

Dec 30, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterrms

JaceF & rms, would these proposals damage the land area for farming purposes and growing of food so we need to import more food? Growing food locally would take a bit of a hit, and we would have to import more with a higher carbon footprint. Is that an irrelevance?

Dec 30, 2015 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

With the consolidated amount of money spent on York and Selby flood defense mounting up to a considerable figure, would not be wiser to consider, say, an 8.5 mile flood drain from just above York to just below York.

I wonder how much it would cost to 'dig'' such a ditch?

The main costs appear to be about 20 road bridges, the land cost low-ish as it is all farm land.

Building works such as this, starting from the sea end must surely be the ultimate solution.

Dec 30, 2015 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

Tomo. As a rather apt endorsement of your comments about public servants I see today that Lin Homer is made a Dame. Her record of incompetence is quite amazing at four different departments. She also received bonuses. It is on the front page of The Times for instance.

Dec 31, 2015 at 8:20 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

My earlier post was to illustrate that Greens, even with the best intentions have been working away to prevent dredging. Blocking ditches and drains, preventing dredging can't help think that this may have contributed to the flooding.

Dec 31, 2015 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJaceF

@golf charlie

I don't know if "would these proposals damage the land area for farming purposes and growing of food so we need to import more food?"

That's the point of my observation (and recommendation) that the proposals be "designed and evaluated prior to execution by doing flood plain studies with hydrologic tools available for decades." Get some professional/chartered engineers involved, and other qualified and educated/trained people. Provide proper funding and governance for the engineering work, and then eventually properly fund the execution of the projects.

It's not "rocket science".

Dec 31, 2015 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterrms

Restoring wetlands. Bringing malaria back to Britain.

Jan 1, 2016 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernd Felsche

Jan 3, 2016 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnM

Bring on the BREXIT vote.

Dredge the rivers ,cut down the useless Windmills , kick out predatory Criminal Migrants.
The E U either reform it or dump it. The U.K. really we can't afford to leave ,reform is the best option.

Vote yes to leave and force reform.

Jan 13, 2016 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

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