Flooding, the threat of more, possibly colder weather on the way; ice, snow and fog.
All these elements have been part of British life since time immemorial. The recriminations now taking place in the press and the media generally try to lay blame for the current flooding on inaction by various factions of local and central government. The lack of ‘river dredging’ and ditch clearing has been cited as the root cause of the situation currently being experienced in the Somerset levels. A year ago I went on a trip to north of Taunton and had to cross the levels to get there. We went had to turn back on two roads which were flooded and find alternative routes which we eventually did. Nothing seems to have been reported in the media at that time about the flooding situation, which happens most years, but is obviously more pronounced this year. It seems that when a greater emergency situation arises, affecting more people and property, that is when those in authority sit up and suddenly decide ‘something should be done’, to quote the then Prince of Wales in the 1930s when the poor were much worse off than they are now; Coincidentally the current Prince of Wales is the only Royal so far to visit the stricken areas, closely followed by the rest of the great and good. So in swift succession: the Chairman of the Environment Agency, the Prime Minister and various local MPs appeared in front of camera to say ‘something should/should have been/ be done’. Perhaps they remember the previous occasion those words were uttered.
But action was suggested, many months ago, including dredging strategic rivers, but the requested funding for this action was refused. By whom? Some bean counter made the decision not to dredge, and some of the consequences of that can now be seen. I say some because with the best will in the world, all the dredging possible wouldn’t have stopped ALL the flooding, but would have gone some way toward alleviating it. The person or department should be sacked, and replaced with someone who knows what they are talking about. They will all probably retire on a fat pension, while the poor sods in Somerset will have to deal with the flooding. The situation in Devon and Dorset is somewhat different. There was no way of knowing that Brunel’s railway route along the coast at Dawlish would be destroyed 150 years after it was laid down, the damage is all due to nature; and there’s nothing that can be done about that. It is nature that caused all the rain, but it totally ignores any criticism, similarly to many people in power.