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Flooding Choice To Protect 'town Or Country', Says Agency Chief

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26012299

There is "no bottomless purse" for flood defences and "difficult but sensible choices about where and what to protect" must be made, the head of the Environment Agency has said.

Chairman Lord Smith, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said "tricky questions" included "town or country, front rooms or farmland"?

The agency has been criticised for its response to the Somerset Levels floods.

Meanwhile, forecasters are warning of further gales and heavy rain to come.

An interesting decision or could both be protected with better spending of the limited budget?

Although perhaps the more reasonable argument is to stop trying to protect the flood plains which is natures way of dealing with large quantities of water. Perhaps not building housing is a better and cheaper option all round?

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Flood the Tory supporting farmland and turn them into penny less benefit dependant urbanites.

Tough call for £100k 3 day a week ex failed labour politico, I wonder which way he swings ?

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26012299

An interesting decision or could both be protected with better spending of the limited budget?

Although perhaps the more reasonable argument is to stop trying to protect the flood plains which is natures way of dealing with large quantities of water. Perhaps not building housing is a better and cheaper option all round?

Impossible

Look at New Orleans

And the other issue is do you want to compensate farmers for 10s of thousands of pounds of damage to livestock and fencing or cities for 10s of millions of pounds of clearing and rebuilding

Edited by Si1

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There are a lot less trees in fields these days - thousands have been cut down as farmers have sought to maximise every inch of every field.

Your average oak, elm or willow consumes about 100,000 litres of water per year. They help maintain ground water levels so that the ground is not constantly sodden. This means that in any prolonged period of rain the ground has the capcity to absorb a considerable amount of the rainfall.

It would not solve the current problems by itself but the cutting down of such trees is one of the causes of the problem.

We know from digs on the Somerset levels that for thousands of years the people who lived there basically lived in a marsh. Roundhouse settlements have been unearthed which were built on the slightly higher ground. Around them would effectively be lakes and forestation. Our ancestors build wooden walkways to get about the levels. It must be - I saw a 'Time Team' on it.

It was the monks, about 800 to 1,000 years ago, who basically drained the levels by digging, by hand, vast numbers of drainage ditches and then maintaining them throughout the centuries. It is typical of the modern UK, especially as we now have mechanical means of maintaing these ditches, that some pen-pusher sat in a warm office somewhere in a city decided that these ditches no longer needed maintaining.

The ditches, by themselves, would not solve the problem but they, along with the big trees, would have helped.

So, with both the demise of the trees and the ditch maintenance, we can see the usual British c*ck-up.

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It was the monks, about 800 to 1,000 years ago, who basically drained the levels by digging, by hand, vast numbers of drainage ditches and then maintaining them throughout the centuries. It is typical of the modern UK, especially as we now have mechanical means of maintaing these ditches, that some pen-pusher sat in a warm office somewhere in a city decided that these ditches no longer needed maintaining.

The ditches, by themselves, would not solve the problem but they, along with the big trees, would have helped.

So, with both the demise of the trees and the ditch maintenance, we can see the usual British c*ck-up.

The Environment agency took over the local drainage board and sold all the dredgers for scrap back in Fanny Scratcher's time.

They bid for £7bn and got £7m from her so stopped doing anything practical.

Solution: plant the whole lot with basket willow. Annual harvest of withies to make baskets to replace supermarket carrier bags. Any surplus can be used to reinforce the river banks and feed biofuel power stations. When it floods the silt will fertilise the willow and build up the soil levels.

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There are a lot less trees in fields these days - thousands have been cut down as farmers have sought to maximise every inch of every field.

Not so sure. Looking at old photo's of my town, they seem to have knocked down houses to landscape and plant tree's!

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The Environment agency took over the local drainage board and sold all the dredgers for scrap back in Fanny Scratcher's time.

They bid for £7bn and got £7m from her so stopped doing anything practical.

Solution: plant the whole lot with basket willow. Annual harvest of withies to make baskets to replace supermarket carrier bags. Any surplus can be used to reinforce the river banks and feed biofuel power stations. When it floods the silt will fertilise the willow and build up the soil levels.

The applied research projects that have looked into replanting significant riparian vegetation to passively manage flooding found that all the trees just washed away in the first big flood.

Nice idea but...

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Its only farmland. Who cares?

So long as the bankers get their bonuses and house prices are rising in Kensington..........

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There are a lot less trees in fields these days - thousands have been cut down as farmers have sought to maximise every inch of every field.

The Wikipedia entry says:

Nowadays, about 12% of Britain's land surface is wooded. This area is increasing. The country's supply of timber was severely depleted during the First and Second World Wars, when imports were difficult, and the forested area bottomed out at under 5% of Britain's land surface in 1919. That year, the Forestry Commission was established to produce a strategic reserve of timber. However, the recovery is still very much in progress. Other European countries average from 25% to 37% of their area as woodland.

So yes and no. There are fewer trees than there were in the Middle Ages, but far more than there were 100 years ago.

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Its only farmland. Who cares?

So long as the bankers get their bonuses and house prices are rising in Kensington..........

Wtf

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To stiff the working class homelands in the rural South?

The 'no money' argument. As per thread title. No shortage of money for paying bonuses or subsidising housebuilders.

Edited by R K

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Solution: plant the whole lot with basket willow. Annual harvest of withies to make baskets to replace supermarket carrier bags. Any surplus can be used to reinforce the river banks and feed biofuel power stations. When it floods the silt will fertilise the willow and build up the soil levels.

+1

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The 'no money' argument. As per thread title. No shortage of money for paying bonuses or subsidising housebuilders.

I'm no fan of those two subsidies, but unnecessary Rural flood defences is just a subsidy to wealthy rural landowners

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I'm no fan of those two subsidies, but unnecessary Rural flood defences is just a subsidy to wealthy rural landowners

I have to say, surprisingly, I'm with Si1 on this. The Somerset levels have been prone to flooding for centuries. I've just read the entry in Wikipedia about them and the landowners undertook works to drain the area over an extended period. How did it come about that the general taxpayer should be responsible for maintaining the drainage ditches and waterways to protect the livelihoods of a smallish number of landowners. Shouldn't they maintain it themselves?

On a cost per head basis it makes economic sense to protect areas with large populations rather than sparsely populated areas.

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I have to say, surprisingly, I'm with Si1 on this. The Somerset levels have been prone to flooding for centuries. I've just read the entry in Wikipedia about them and the landowners undertook works to drain the area over an extended period. How did it come about that the general taxpayer should be responsible for maintaining the drainage ditches and waterways to protect the livelihoods of a smallish number of landowners. Shouldn't they maintain it themselves?

On a cost per head basis it makes economic sense to protect areas with large populations rather than sparsely populated areas.

Yes

in fact, I would love to flood the farmland of Cameron's and IDS's families deliberately.

Mean, but somehow it would be satisfying.

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I have to say, surprisingly, I'm with Si1 on this. The Somerset levels have been prone to flooding for centuries. I've just read the entry in Wikipedia about them and the landowners undertook works to drain the area over an extended period. How did it come about that the general taxpayer should be responsible for maintaining the drainage ditches and waterways to protect the livelihoods of a smallish number of landowners. Shouldn't they maintain it themselves?

On a cost per head basis it makes economic sense to protect areas with large populations rather than sparsely populated areas.

+ 1

Historically the levels were used as summer pasture for livestock like a lot of other wetland areas. In winter it was mainly abandoned to the elements

It has also flooded many times in the past a s a cursory glance at the wiki article will reveal including catastrophic floods in 1919 which covered 70,000 acres which is more than 3 times the area inundated at the moment

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somerset_Levels

The current flooding in the area is bad but by no means exceptional

The actual number of homes flooded is tiny compared to say the Carlisle floods in 2005 which affected 2,700 homes compared with the 100 or so impacted in the Somerset levels at the moment

Edited by stormymonday_2011

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+ 1

Historically the levels were used as summer pasture for livestock like a lot of other wetland areas. In winter it was mainly abandoned to the elements

It has also flooded many times in the past a s a cursory glance at the wiki article will reveal including catastrophic floods in 1919 which covered 70,000 acres which is more than 3 times the area inundated at the moment

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somerset_Levels

The current flooding in the area is bad but by no means exceptional

The actual number of homes flooded is tiny compared to say the Carlisle floods in 2005 which affected 2,700 homes compared with the 100 or so impacted in the Somerset levels at the moment

These kind of regions were historically wetland. Humans have been artificially restricting previously diffuse drainage patterns into channelised constricted rivers to enhance farming utility, ie keep the penne drier for longer more predictable periods. However from time to time nature will reassert itself.

I don't get the farmers whingeing, it's just business risk

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