The general public may be feeling disillusioned by our governments response to the recent flooding crisis. Year on year our response can feel underwhelming as budgets are continually cut for a problem which is evidently increasing in magnitude.
Last week Elizabeth Truss gave a rousing speech addressing the Oxford Farming Conference.
If the situation were not so tragically flawed, I would consider it to be a great feat or achievement; that a Philosophy, Politics and Economics graduate can today call themselves our nations Secretary for Environmental affairs.
The United Kingdom has been widely criticized for our lackluster approach towards tackling environmental issues;
And the peculiar qualifications of those in charge of such affairs has been well covered;
However in the aforementioned speech, there are a few glaring anomalies to highlight;
“Subject to parliamentary approval, we will also allow farmers across the country to maintain ditches up to 1.5km long from April, so they can dredge and clear debris and manage the land to stop it getting waterlogged. This follows the successful pilots we started two years ago. We will also soon announce proposals to give internal drainage boards and other groups more power to maintain local watercourses.”
I understand this to some extent, giving greater freedoms to people and landowners on the local scale. However whilst drainage ditches may prevent local small scale flooding or ‘water logging’ there is enough evidence to suggest that increasing the speed of which water runs through neighboring floodplains simply increases the risk of catastrophic flooding events further ‘downstream’.
How can you then later state with utmost honesty that;
“There is no single answer to improve our resilience to flooding. Dredging, tree planting, improved defences, all have a role to play.”
When you have previously confirmed a plan to relinquish control or management of such schemes. Whilst highlighting the reestablishment of dredging as a primary plan of action.
Flooding is the nation’s problem, and it cannot be dealt with on the local scale. For an effective flood management plan to exist landowners must work together and not for themselves. This is where a ‘Government’ could be extremely effective, by acting as a pivot point for sensible and constructive action planning. However instead of offering the guidance, leadership and structure necessary to tackle such a grand crisis, landowners have been left to fend for themselves.