The flood waters are receding. But out there in Somerset – not on the Levels, mind – is one pundit still determined to ram down the throats of anyone still listening that the dastardly EU done it. The area may have just seen its wettest winter for over a hundred years, and flooding during that season might be a regular occurrence, but these thoughts are not allowed to enter the world of Christopher Booker.
Flooding on the Somerset Levels
The Telegraph’s most shamelessly dishonest pundit dwells briefly on Young Dave’s talks last week with Angela Merkel, to assert that no reform of the EU could ever possibly happen – it most certainly could, and as ever, the reality is more nuanced than Booker has the capability to undertstand – and then it’s on to the floods, and the conceit that Brussels ordered us to let it happen.
“These floods were not just an unfortunate act of nature. They were deliberately made much worse by a major shift of government policy, designed to put the interests of wildlife and ‘biodiversity’ above those of people, homes and businesses” he asserts. And to that I call bullshit. The Environment Agency (EA) has protection of homes and people as its top priority. But do go on.
“In parts of Britain, specifically including the Somerset Levels, the intention has been to ‘increase flooding’ in the interests of nature and the concerns of ‘green’ lobby groups, heavily funded by the EU, including the WWF, Friends of the Earth and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds”. Again, this is total crap: restoring floodplains – which has been happening – does not mean flooded homes.
When Southlake Moor had its floodplain restored in 2010, the pay-offs were clear: “allow safe control of flood waters during winter ... manage water levels and prevent rivers from overflowing ... promote biodiversity and prevent flooding”. The restored floodplains, taken together, can hold millions of cubic metres of water – water that would otherwise have entered the rivers and made things worse.
Booker talks of “dredging those deliberately silted-up rivers”, but the Parrett and Tone had their “pinch points” de-silted last October and November. Then he urges “putting the management of flooding on the Levels back in the hands of those local boards”, but those boards are already involved – and they, together with the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), determine priorities.
That Booker has never mentioned the RFCCs suggests he is getting his local information piecemeal, rather than investigating thoroughly. But he does believe that the whole business is in the hands of “An alliance of the Somerset county council, the Environment Agency and green lobbyists”. Yes, like the RFCCs and Drainage Boards, rather than self-appointed frauds like Booker.
Still, it keeps him in pocket money, so that’s all right, then.