Readers’ letters - January 5

It's time for a major re-think when it comes to flooding, says a correspondent. See letters
It's time for a major re-think when it comes to flooding, says a correspondent. See letters

Time for a re-think

The recent severe flooding disasters can be partly attributed to a little remembered instruction, issued by the EU in approximately 2000, where all EU members were advised that it was no longer necessary to dredge river beds. We in the UK, being law-abiding citizens, took this instruction literally and that annual practice was dropped. So that, after nearly 15 years of raised river beds, these must inevitably be a substantial cause of environmental flooding.

Of course other combined factors, such as the removal of adjacent trees, have increased the run-off into rivers, and the lack of wildlife, such as beavers who build dams to slow down the speed of water flows, have all added to this problem.

No one is doubting there are, and will continue to be, unprecedented amounts of rainfall which is the root cause of this problem. This may be due to man’s intervention with burning fossil fuels, or not, depending on your viewpoint. The main point here is that these regularly practised natural solutions are considerably cheaper than the concrete defences, erected at great expense to provide protection to our towns and villages and which have lately proved to be totally inadequate.

More worrying is Chancellor Osbourne’s recent avowal for the government to provide a tremendous increase in new housing, but local authorities’ planning departments must be properly consulted before anything is finalised. The previously accepted reasoning that major flooding only occurred once every 40 years is now proving to be wrong and has worrying implications for the adequacy of our present storm and foul water drainage installations.

It is obvious that the usual five-year solutions proposed by each successive elected government are no longer acceptable and should be superseded by a permanent UK Environmental Organisation, well-funded and able to provide adequate solutions to these increasing future climatic problems. Will our present Government have sufficient ‘bottle’ to propose and fund such a permanent body beyond political manipulation?

E J Tilley via email

EU worsens flood issue

We all know about the recent devastating floods but not everyone is aware of some of the reasons behind them. These include the European Water Framework Directive, which came into UK law in 2000. This has meant that dredging has virtually halted.

While not banned, the circumstances in which it may be authorised are limited and involve a lengthy assessment process. Any sediment removed from the river bed, which may have been used to raise the river banks, is now classed as hazardous waste and must be disposed of. This restriction has had a devastating impact.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy has led to widespread chopping down of trees to meet farm subsidy requirements. But chopping down trees increases the risk of flooding as water sinks into the soil 67 times faster under trees than it does under grass.

The situation has also been aggravated by house building being allowed on flood plains.

The Environment Agency may consider that adequate protection is in place but the recent “unprecedented” floods may become the norm, meaning problems are being stored up for tomorrow.

The increasing need for more housing would not be such an issue but for uncontrolled immigration. So another problem created by our EU membership. The answer is simple – we leave the EU.

Paul Nuttall,

UKIP North West MEP and deputy party leader