Monday, 12 May 2014

Flood Meadows

As the level of water begins to fall and something akin to normality begins to return to the Somerset Levels, its also a time for some introspection by the Environment Agency. Managing a watershed its a highly complex science, one were small changes in one place can have a significant impact in another. One of the key issues is going to be the role played by environmental issues in the decision making process.

Environmental groups actually play a very important part in bringing a balanced approach to management of the overall habitat. We should where possible manage our flood meadows and wetlands in a way that allows them to function as nature intended.  However, we should not put at risk large tracts of land to flooding by not carrying out essential maintenance solely on the grounds of habitat protection. 

Dredging of the rivers has been held up by farming groups as the cause of the extensive flooding. Record levels of rainfall is going to be the norm according to climate change groups. Building on flood plains thereby creating an avoidable problem is what many green groups espouse. Poor planning decisions that are made by lay people by environmentalists. The abandonment of some planning regulations and fast tracking because the government is unable to encourage the housing market to use brownfield sites.

The problem for the Environment agency is that they act as a whipping boy for many different pressure groups. 'Damned if they don't and damned if they do.' Budget cuts now drives the environment agency thinking. This means significant job cuts and significant changes in staffing levels. It's going to get much much worse before it starts to get better.

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