We have now seen a succession of politicians including the Prime Minister, Lord Smith the townie Chairman of the Environment Agency, and Prince Charles visiting the Somerset Levels. Owen Paterson was criticised for not having his wellingtons boots which was a bit harsh as apparently they were in the boot of his car. But because the crowd were somewhat hostile when he arrived, he was moved away swiftly before he could get them out and put them on.
He and David Cameron used the somewhat tired phrase which I believe the public are getting increasing irritated by "lessons will be learnt".
One could say that had they done their home-work some while ago, and listened to local concerns and on the ground advice, action should have been taken which would perhaps not have prevented all of the flooding, but at least it could have helped to move the water away much quicker than it has.
The fact that Eric Pickles has been put in charge is an interesting development. A man not known for his tact and man management skills, listening to grass roots, or diplomacy, it will be interesting to see how things progress. I think it could turn nasty.
We can only hope that if Lord Smith does resigns as chairman of the EA, he will be replaced by someone with hands on experience. There is no question that EA officers are working flat out trying to help in flooded areas, and that these are the worst conditions for over 200 years. The trouble is that directives have been issued from offices in London and Brussels and very little notice has been taken of local knowledge and concerns.
It is questionable whether the EA understands the importance of putting people, their livelihoods, farming and food security above biodiversity and wildlife habitats. The EU environmentalists who advocate deliberately flooding not only the Somerset Levels but other "floodplains" and shorelines across the country, seem to have influenced the policy. The EA's strategy has obviously been driven by EU ideology as Christopher Booker noted in The Sunday Telegraph. The EU should not be allowed to interfere; I wonder if they will now contribute to the millions of pounds needed to put things right.
This story will run and run with blame being scattered far and wide. Listening to grown men wriggling across the airwaves and media is unbecoming and unhelpful, as desperate home owners, farmers and businesses try to cope with continuing rising levels of water.
For centuries the silt dredged up from rivers, stream and ditches has been spread on the land but the EU advocate that this 'waste' product which they consider to be toxic, should be removed and dumped elsewhere. They recommend it is taken to landfill by commercial companies at the cost to farmers and landowners. How sensible is that?
Having recently been threatened by a rogue 'road repair' conman, to part with my hard earned cash or he would deliver dozens of his mangy horses on my fields and dump his caravans, I was interested to see that ministers are considering giving ASBOs to those who 'fly graze' their horses on private and council land.
Lord De Mauley has said that councils should use anti-social behaviour orders to deal with the growing problem of 'fly grazing'. By the summer, on the spot nuisance orders called Community Protection Notices will be placed on offenders. That is if they can find them.
This sounds like a soft option which is unlikely to stop these ‘owners’ dumping their livestock on other people's land. The best solution would be to take the livestock to the slaughter house and give the money to the land owner as compensation. I dare say this suggestion will be met with howls of protest but I think it just may do the job. The RSPCA should be put in charge (this may offer them an opportunity to make friends with the farming community), as it will need to be managed or the very people which we are talking about will be pinching livestock and presenting them to the slaughter house as their own. A nice little scam.
As for the dodgy road man who dumped a load of Chipping's at the end of the drive and then demanded thousands of pounds, his threats were nasty, his manner offensive and his pleading that the situation he found himself in was due to his 'ethnic roots', pathetic.
Carola Godman Irvine