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Thank Agenda 21, Red Tape and Green sustainability for Somerset floods in UK

Christopher Booker explains in The Spectator that it’s not global warming that caused  such ghastly floods in the UK, but incompetence and a Green EU wetland plan. He lives near Somerset, (SW England) so he started investigating the rising water six weeks ago — which has now become widespread inundation there, with damages estimated at over £100 million.

(Click to enlarge) Map of Somerset floods | From this BBC page.

As usual, this was a process of small government becoming collectivized big-government.

In the Spectator he writes that before 1996, local groups of farmers and engineers managed the drains, but in 1996 the EA (Environmental Agency) took over. Regular dredging stopped happening, the pumping stations were neglected (or stopped, see the link to the note from the Ghost below), and the local drainage boards found it hard to get anything done with the EA red tape. Then things got worse. In 2002, “the Baroness Young of Old Scone, a Labour peeress, became the agency’s new chief executive”. As Booker goes on to note, she used to run the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Natural England, not that that’s a bad thing per se, just that she had different aims to the people who lived there. The locals saw what was coming, they feared that the river had become choked and silted, they wanted control back. Instead, what they got was some parts of Somerset suddenly “returned to wetland” — but that, it seems, was kinda the goal.

Booker and Richard North pored through documents and found remarkable quotes.  According to the Baroness, the cheapest way to get a wetland was to “stop drainage” and let “nature take its course”.

From Christopher Booker in “Revealed: How green ideology turned a deluge into a flood

“A key part in this had been played by those EU directives which govern almost everything the Environment Agency gets up to — including two with which Baroness Young was already familiar when she presided over the RSPB — setting out the EU’s policy on ‘habitats’ and ‘birds’. But just as important was a 2007 directive on the ‘management of flood risks’, which required ‘flood plains’, in the name of ‘biodiversity’, to be made subject to increased flooding.

“This was just what Lady Young was looking for. She had already been giving lectures and evidence to a House of Lords committee on the EU’s earlier Water Framework directive, proclaiming that one of her agency’s top priorities should be to create more ‘habitats’ for wildlife by allowing wetlands to revert to nature. As she explained in an interview in 2008, creating new nature reserves can be very expensive. By far the cheapest way was simply to allow nature to take its course, by halting the drainage of wetlands such as the Somerset Levels. The recipe she proudly gave in her lectures, repeated to that Lords committee, was: for ‘instant wildlife, just add water’.

“In 2008 her agency therefore produced a 275-page document categorising areas at risk of flooding under six policy options.  These ranged from Policy 1, covering areas where flood defences should be improved, down to category 6, where, in the name of ‘biodiversity’, the policy should be to ‘take action to increase the frequency of flooding’. The paper placed the Somerset Levels firmly under Policy 6, where the intention was quite deliberately to allow more flooding. The direct consequences of that we are  now seeing round the clock on our television screens.

To get a catastrophe this big takes really Big-Government

It’s not just the EA – it was the EU too

EU policies on waste management made disposal of silt from dredged rivers too expensive and painful. So right across the UK (in the Thames Valley where floods run amok as well) subsidized “conservation schemes” became common and old fashioned dredging went out of style.

Christopher Booker: “The Environment Agency’s response to an enquiry as to why the Thames has also not been properly dredged since 1996 reveals that this was because the new EU waste regulations of that year made regular dredging ‘uneconomical’.

Ultimately this was about wilderness over people:

…. in no nation has this ‘green’ ideology found such a sympathetic response as in Britain, where the senior officials of the EA — 14 of them earning more than £100,000 a year — have long been more swayed by those Agenda 21 doctrines of ‘sustainability’ and ‘biodiversity’ than by any practical concern for the needs of people, homes, businesses and farmland.

Read the whole feature:  Revealed: how green ideology turned a deluge into a flood

Don’t miss the the ghost commenter at Tallblokes and Bishop Hill who writes that a key pumphouse was closed in 2008 and the floods were entirely predictable, the EA were warned but what the people of Somerset got was incompetent policy and inaction from start to end. WattsUp has added maps, video and pictures. Anthony Watts also notes that even one Met Office Expert agrees that this was not due to “global warming”. Golly… a pocket of sane.

Meanwhile things are so bad in Somerset, pumps from the Netherlands have been brought in and some say it will take weeks for the water to drain. My sympathies to the affected people all over the UK.


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