The British stoicism seems to have held communities together which are facing true hardship and in many cases utter despair. As one elderly lady said last week as she and her livestock were rescued from her flooded smallholding, “At least for us this is a rare event and I and my stock are being helped. There are people in other parts of the world where such conditions happen frequently. They get no help, there is no one to save them and many perish in the floods or starve to death as a direct result.”
Many housing estates which have flooded were built on land which when surveyed was quite reasonably considered to be appropriate for housing. The countryside around was well drained, with rivers and ditches regularly dredged over many decades. What they did not taken into account was a future change of policy.
In 2003 the Warsaw Conference arranged by the EU said – ‘There may be substantial benefits if some flood plain land is returned to its previous unprotected, un-drained condition’.
In 2008 the Environment Agency released planning papers which revealed their strategic programme of increased flooding in allocated areas. This exposes the lack of dredging was not through neglect but a deliberate policy.
Planners and developers have built on land which was previously managed to prevent flooding. What the EA has achieved either to conform to EU directives or through bad planning and a lack of local knowledge should be recognised and addressed.
Mr Cameron was reported last week to have said, “Money is no object”! We can only hope he is right. It will cost not millions but more likely billions to restore the protection to communities and businesses by reinstating the Victorian and post War drainage systems and flood defences.
Fortunately it seems that the Environment Agency does indeed have plenty of spare cash. They have been able to divert funds to run Politically Correct diversity parades, and Islamic fellowship days. Their staff are also able to work just three days a week due to work time directives and flexi-time, and many employees work from home! One has to ask the question, how much dredging can be achieved by working from home?
Up and down the country rural and farming communities are doing their bit to help support livestock farmers in the worst flooded areas. There is a huge effort ongoing to send emergency supplies of donated hay, silage and bedding into these areas which have been badly affected, including Somerset, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, West Sussex, Kent and Surrey.
Finding hauliers to move theses supplies has not been easy but many commercial firms have given their help freely. And with public donations and help from charities like the Addington Fund, supplies have being delivered where needed.
The need will continue over the coming weeks and months and it is certain that the farming community will rally together and do what they can to help. It looks like it could take months for the flood water to recede in some areas, and time will tell how long it will take for some of the land will recover, certainly much will be un-useable this year.
To grow grass and crops you need healthy soil. Healthy soil needs to be well drained, contain the right amount of nutrients, trace elements, oxygen and worms. All of which contribute to the biology of the soil which farmers rely upon and constantly nurture to ensure they can maximise the production of healthy pastures and crops.
The weight of water upon the land for any length of time can quickly destroy all of this. They say just an inch of water is equivalent to 10 tons of pressure. Just imagine what is happening to the land which has been covered by several feet of water for weeks. The ground will be consolidated, airless and wormless, the result being stagnant and lifeless soil. The prospect of growing healthy crops in the immediate future is fairly remote.
Those wishing to make a donation to help pay for the haulage of donated supplies so desperate farmers can feed and bed their stock, can do so online at: www.addingtonfund.org.uk Thank you.
Carola Godman Irvine