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Bedford Roughyed

Stormageddon - The south gets windy and wet

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The floods have finally got to this little part of Suffolk.  The little brook by our house has at least doubled in size to about 12ft across and is fairly flowing down rather than gently trickling as it used to.  The pic below was taken from our side window this morning showing that the water at least 3-4ft above where it normally is and has partly flooded the field, it's a good foot or so higher since and is almost reaching that path shown.  No danger to our house though unless it goes up by at least 6 foot more and that's so unlikely it's almost inconceivable.

 

Floods.jpg

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I'd like a nice house by the river, wait long enough you will have.

 

I'd like a nice house by the coast, wait long enough you will have.

 

Nature will change the landscape, man just helps, in certain places, for it to happen quicker.

 

The more beautiful and desirable a place is to live in, the more dangerous it is to be there when it comes to the effects of water.

 

The sad thing is because the ones who can afford to live downstream in the nice areas don't want to pay their fair share, and gain influence to stop things like dredging, the more it affects people upstream.

 

When local fishing villages etc. were the preserve of fishermen etc they knew the value of looking after the landscape, and would burden the cost.

 

Once the money idiots who believe in the Thatcher No Society model move in and see things as a pointless expense you get things that were easily avoidable by pulling together and a few bob being thrown in the pot turning into major problems.

 

 

 

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I'd like a nice house by the river, wait long enough you will have.

 

I'd like a nice house by the coast, wait long enough you will have.

 

Nature will change the landscape, man just helps, in certain places, for it to happen quicker.

 

The more beautiful and desirable a place is to live in, the more dangerous it is to be there when it comes to the effects of water.

 

The sad thing is because the ones who can afford to live downstream in the nice areas don't want to pay their fair share and gain influence to stop things like dredging, the more it affects people upstream.

 

 

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I remember a councillor talking to me about cuts like dredging at a council meeting once, he was even more cynical than me.  He said: "Imagine that a council has to make £1m of cuts, what do you cut?  Things that only happen if there's a problem, and there hasn't been one for 20+ years, or things that'll directly affect you getting re-elected next time round?  Easy choice for the vast majority of politicians."

 

I also remember the days when government ministers used to accept accountability for their decisions.

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You must be older than you make out then. :)

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Some of the storm coverage today from Somerset way is quite scary.  Some very nasty weather and damage caused.

 

It's getting old now, we've had the very bad weather, can't we just get back to normal conversational weather about how cold/hot/windy/dry/wet/snowy/slushy/humid it is?

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I remember a councillor talking to me about cuts like dredging at a council meeting once, he was even more cynical than me.  He said: "Imagine that a council has to make £1m of cuts, what do you cut?  Things that only happen if there's a problem, and there hasn't been one for 20+ years, or things that'll directly affect you getting re-elected next time round?  Easy choice for the vast majority of politicians."

 

I also remember the days when government ministers used to accept accountability for their decisions.

 

 

A good proportion of the problem lies with the mindset of Environment Agency officers. They are far more concerned with increasing the habitats of mosses, reeds, eels, voles, insects and molluscs than they are about safeguarding the habitats of mere human beings.

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A good proportion of the problem lies with the mindset of Environment Agency officers. They are far more concerned with increasing the habitats of mosses, reeds, eels, voles, insects and molluscs than they are about safeguarding the habitats of mere human beings.

Well... if we hadn't built so many houses on floodplains then we'd have ready-made storm-surge areas meaning it's not quite as important to defend against every single bit of flood.

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A good proportion of the problem lies with the mindset of Environment Agency officers. They are far more concerned with increasing the habitats of mosses, reeds, eels, voles, insects and molluscs than they are about safeguarding the habitats of mere human beings.

 

Well, there are lots of green crayon sites out there proclaiming how it's 'common sense' to cut the agency to ribbons and remove all that regulation n red tape ... but still magically defend the country against obscene weather.

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No matter what the EA say, they should have been dredging that River Parrett every summer for the past fifteen years ... just like it was for the previous hundred.

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Well... if we hadn't built so many houses on floodplains then we'd have ready-made storm-surge areas meaning it's not quite as important to defend against every single bit of flood.

 

 

Many of the so-labelled houses built on floodplains were built before floodplain levels were set. I've worked on a couple of developments where properties were built in 1:100 year floodzones. You can't not develop land that might flood once in a hundred years; the building-floors are set at a raised level above the predicted flood level.

 

In many such cases, a proportion of the carparks and gardens are set at a sub-flood level. The levels are generally set for a minimal-difference flood profile.

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Many of the so-labelled houses built on floodplains were built before floodplain levels were set. I've worked on a couple of developments where properties were built in 1:100 year floodzones. You can't not develop land that might flood once in a hundred years; the building-floors are set at a raised level above the predicted flood level.

 

In many such cases, a proportion of the carparks and gardens are set at a sub-flood level. The levels are generally set for a minimal-difference flood profile.

I'm talking about the developments since the 1980s where getting planning permission was made easier for these areas.  Here's an article from 2012 that shows up to 28,000 applications were submitted to build houses on genuine floodplain areas.  Approx 10% of applications are approved against Environment Agency advice.  For those houses, they should get a nice fat stamp on their deeds that say "uninsurable" as why should insurers have to pay out on houses built against the expert advice of the Environment Agency that then flood anyway?

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Floods? Ask locally what the flood risk is. Try & get an insurance quote on that.

My partner wouldn't buy anything with a sea view, or on any road that looked like a valley.

We bought nice, a Victorian terrace, reasonably close to the top of a hill.

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Of course the opinion on dredging isn't as clear cut as some would like.  With lots of evidence that it creates worse problems downstream.

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Also the fact it's been the wettest period since the record began might have more of an influence than the lack of dredging.

 

I trust none of the farmers demanding action are the same farmers who have ripped up hedges, etc?

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I trust none of the farmers demanding action are the same farmers who have ripped up hedges, etc?

 

As Wolford believes farmers are always right and townies should never ever think of criticising their country ways, no.

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It's the people in the houses that are complaining.

 

The Environment agency has admitted it needs to do an extensive dredging operation.

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It's the people in the houses that are complaining.

 

The Environment agency has admitted it needs to do an extensive dredging operation.

However, reports have also stated that while dredging helps, it isn't a solution. 

 

I've been reading a bit about the Somerset levels and apparently flooding is a regular feature of what is a flood plan, the land being at a lower level than the rivers running through it.  Obviously the extent and duration of the present floods is extremely unusual.  I can appreciate the weariness and frustration of the people living there and in other places badly affected by flooding but to what lengths would they be willing to go to avoid being flooded? 

 

I watched an interview with a representative from the Netherlands, where of course half the country is below sea level and they spend half their lives ensuring the sea stays where it is.  During the piece there was an example given of a farmer whose land had been flooded numerous times and in order to avoid further flooding to his premises the old farm was knocked down (I think they said it was a couple of hundred years old or something) and a new one built on an artificially raised landscape.  His property has subsequently been flood free even though his land still cops it sometimes.  That's an extreme measure but if we are going to continue suffering from such widespread flooding then maybe we have to start thinking about extreme measures?

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The levels flood every year but usually only once or twice and only for a few days. This year, they've been flooded for weeks and the fresh rain only tops up the flood. The locals, farmers and householders, insist that this is because the River Parrett cannot drain the land quickly enough. It did when it was dredged annually.

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The levels flood every year but usually only once or twice and only for a few days. This year, they've been flooded for weeks and the fresh rain only tops up the flood. The locals, farmers and householders, insist that this is because the River Parrett cannot drain the land quickly enough. It did when it was dredged annually.

It hasn't had this much rain for over 100 years.  Anecdotal stories about dredging in the 70's doesn't change that.  The River could drain faster, by flooding Bridgewater which sits directly in the way.  To save 40 houses from flooding you seem happy to flood a town.

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It hasn't had this much rain for over 100 years.  Anecdotal stories about dredging in the 70's doesn't change that.  The River could drain faster, by flooding Bridgewater which sits directly in the way.  To save 40 houses from flooding you seem happy to flood a town.

 

 

There's nothing anecdotal about the EA now admitting the River Parrett  needs dredging and desperately paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to pump as much water as it can off the levels into the river. It wouldn't do that if the action would only move the flood to other residences downriver.

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Monbiot

 

I'll leave it to others to determine his right-ness.

 

I won't argue about tree-bearing land soaking up water better than grassland and the sense of creating oxbow lakes to alleviate flooding, but those part-solutions take at least twenty years and millions of pounds to implement.

 

He's being disingenuous about English grouse moors though. The moors are vitally kept bare of forestation in order to provide clean freshwater catchment water for reservoirs. The reservoirs provide potable water for the great unwashed in the towns and cities at the feet of the moors. Providing shooting for the toffs is a side issue ... no other development would be permitted.

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I won't argue about tree-bearing land soaking up water better than grassland and the sense of creating oxbow lakes to alleviate flooding, but those part-solutions take at least twenty years and millions of pounds to implement.

 

 

But dredging likewise is a part-solution.  Put all the parts together and the area may have a better chance of performing better under extreme conditions.  However, all the defences and part-solutions in the world sometimes simply do not work.

 

I notice that from the Levels the news I watched last night travelled to Kent where they have also experienced flooding within the last 48 hours because a river has burst its banks for the second time in as many weeks.  When posed with the usual 'are you angry' type questions from the interviewer, the bloke standing in his sodden home said there is not a lot that can be done when the water is coming up through the floor.  Cue camera zoning in on bubbles erupting in the water which was covering his back garden. 

 

Sometimes, nothing can be done but wait it out and hope the weather stops being such a bar steward, sad and difficult that is for the poor folk enduring this awful time.

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You're right in that.  Dredging has been acknowledged as increasing river flow in the bits they're mentioning by an absolute maximum of 40%, yet the south of England has had 250% of normal January rain and some bits by far more than that.  That rain then will naturally go towards the rivers that really cannot cope.  Even if fully dredged, you'd still see nearly the same atrocious flooding but you then have the risk of even more water hitting other areas down-river.  Sometimes you just have to accept that there's not much you can do but mop up after Mother Nature gives us a drenching.

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Monbiot

 

I'll leave it to others to determine his right-ness.

 

Monbiot is one of our best investigative journalists and a vital voice in the wider world but I find myself mentally rewriting his sentences.  It's like reading Yoda.

 

Rivers, as I was told by the people who had just rewilded one in the Lake District – greatly reducing the likelihood that it would cause floods downstream – "need something to chew on".

 

"Mmmmmmhhmmmm, strong is the force"

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