Monday, 10 February 2014

Flooding - for some, not so much catastrophe as opportunity?

Photo: Western Daily Press

The floods only just across and down the Severn Estuary from here in the Somerset levels have filled large column inches in the press and  prompted a great many prayers from those not so affected and a huge outpouring of sympathy for those who are trapped and suffering.

What we are not told - not so much anyway - is that there has been lurking in the back of the minds of civil servants, and those who staff the largely unaccountable 'quangos' of which our country has become so fond, a conscious decision to abandon large areas of low lying and reclaimed farmland to the advancing waters. There are several reasons given, including the supposedly prohibitive cost of maintaining sea defences and dredging activities (actually chicken feed in comparison to, as one commentator has pointed out, the recent banking bail out),  claims that such an abandonment of land historically (monastically, even) reclaimed from swamp and sea is in the interests of wildlife and ecology in the face of climate change, and. indefensibly, the essentially false choice between the protection of urban and rural environments.

It's currently fashionable, but only partly accurate, to claim that this hidden policy is encouraged and reinforced by an EU directive, yet many know that these ideas have been common currency in British government circles for a very long time indeed - the problem is no one has bothered to consult those most closely affected, those who stand to lose land, livestock and livelihoods because of the extremely low priority given by our urbanised political culture both to agriculture and the interests of those who live and work in the countryside.
Meanwhile as the rain falls and the waters continue to rise, the Westminster politicians squabble ..... 

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