Confusion reigns at the Telegraph, where resident serial fraud Christopher Booker has now decided, after telling readers that it would not happen because of the hated EU, that the rivers Parrett and Tone, which drain the Somerset Levels, will be dredged and de-silted anyway. This, he has announced, is down to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s stance alone.
Flooding on the Somerset Levels
That’s an interesting idea for him to try and sell, given that he has previously told that various EU directives, plus the behaviour of the previous Government, had forced the Levels to become a disaster waiting to happen – and that there was nothing that anyone could do about it, short – of course – of leaving the EU. So now the headline is “Owen Paterson puts ‘dry homes’ before greens’ ‘wet lands’”.
Two weeks ago the story was that “they were deliberately engineered by Labour ministers in 2009, regardless of the property and human rights of the thousands of people whose homes and livelihoods would be affected [and the] Met Office forecast in November led the Environment Agency to take a step that has made the flooding infinitely more disastrous than it need have been”.
This was, not surprisingly, another pack of lies, but as Booker knows only too well, if you’re going to tell whoppers, you might as well do it properly. Both the Parrett and Tone – contrary to what several right-leaning pundits have asserted – had their “pinch points” de-silted in October and November last year, to increase their flow rate. And, as Paterson’s action shows, the EU isn’t forcing us to do anything.
On top of that, only last week he was claiming “An alliance of the Somerset county council, the Environment Agency and green lobbyists, all of whom have received millions of pounds in funding from Brussels to shape and implement EU policy, looks ominously like winning the day ... any hope of reversing that policy and preventing a repetition of this disaster begins to look pretty forlorn”.
And Booker cannot resist telling another whopper when it comes to the exceptionally wet winter just past: “what turned out to be only England’s 16th wettest winter in 250 years”. As the Met Office has confirmed, “It has ... been the wettest winter in the long running England and Wales precipitation series going back to 1766”. That’s as near 250 years as makes no difference.
The Somerset Levels flooded when that annual dredging that Booker believes to be a catch-all solution was in place. And the flooding reached a lot further – the 65 square kilometres of last winter was dwarfed by the 280 square kilometres in 1919. The Environment Agency has never, but never, prioritised wildlife over the safety of humans. But sometimes the sheer volume of water defeats the best preparations.
And there is no way for him to lie his way out of that inconvenient fact.