Royal Soc Report Blames Somerset Floods on Climate Change – Ignores Env Agency Failings

Posted: November 27, 2014 by tallbloke in Accountability, Analysis, Big Green, climate, Incompetence, People power, propaganda, weather

The BBC’s Roger Harrabin reports on a Royal Society report into the Somerset flooding (with a straight face). We covered this extensively as it happened last winter

somerset-flood-updateThe authors of a Royal Society report on resilience to extreme weather have told BBC News that they believe the campaign to protect the Levels prompted politics to override science.

They say those resident on the Levels may have to get used to living with floods, and they question whether investment to protect farmland is the best use of public money.

“These so-called experts haven’t got a clue what they are talking about. We are used to being flooded – but we don’t expect to get ignored for so long”

James WinsladeSomerset farmer

Some local farmers have reacted angrily, saying the academics fail to understand the complex geography of the Levels, and arguing that the water management system installed in the 1960s should be maintained.

But experts said that in a world of climate change, people must reconsider previous expectations for managing land.

The two flood experts on the Royal Society resilience report were asked by BBC News how global lessons might be applied to Somerset.

One, Prof Paul Bates from Bristol University, said: “There was completely disproportionate attention on the Somerset Levels. About 150 homes were flooded compared with 6-10,000 nationwide. Local farmers lobbied very effectively, seized the agenda and got the Environment Agency to overturn its policy of not dredging.

“But the agency’s policy was the right one. This is a massive seasonally-flooded wetland and dredging would have made only a marginal difference. It could even make matters worse if it shunts the water somewhere else.”

Climate change means we must get used to more extreme weather, scientists argue

“There’s huge demand for flood protection in the UK. It’s not cost-effective to use public money protecting agricultural land.”

“Some places you need to learn to live with water, accept mentally that it will flood… or just pull out”

Prof Rob NichollsSouthampton University:

“We should be looking for greater resilience – perhaps by re-routing transport links, or making individual homes flood-proof, or maybe raising roads if that proves cost-effective.”

“In the end,” he said, “we may have to compensate people living there to move away completely” 

Read the rest

  1. If last winter’s floods in Somerset were due to climate change, what caused the much heavier rainfall in the autumn/winter of 1929/30?

  2. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    It’s political climate change.

  3. Doug Proctor says:

    In Alberta, Canada, we had a terrible flood in 2005 and then an even worse one in 2013. The later one flooded the downtown core, shut down major corporations for five days, ruined shops that took up to a year to reopen. To the west, washed away homes. The previous one hit further south, washed away trailer parks, homes.

    People died, property destroyed. But where? On the lowlands. Especially along rivers where the richer people lived.

    Funny thing. In the old, look-after-yerself-mate days, the rich lived on the hilltops where they were dry and sewage ran downhill. The poor lived by the rivers where they got flooded and sewage and rats were sometimes in the streets. Now it is reversed, but the same problem exists: water gathers where the low bits are.

    There was an attempt in Alberta to stop development of floodplains – as someone said at the time, they are called floodplains for a reason – by either fiat or the inability to get insurance. That didn’t work for the developers. So, no go. Flood protection for agricultural land …. well, the silt that comes from flooding is what made the land so rich in the first place (on “bottom” lands, anyway). Silt happens, one might say; mitigate, but you can’t prevent.

    It is true that we can’t protect it all. But we are not in a virgin country. We use what is available and cheaper. Ask the Dutch.

    The academic urban eco-green wants a countryside of nature while enjoying the advantages of one that is managed and is the way it is because of the management of centuries. It is appropriate to say that in toto the Nation can’t afford to do everything, but the principle in the value of dredging Somerset was recognized long ago.

    We also can’t afford to keep all foolish researchers in tweed jackets and SmartCars. Perhaps what we need is a list of Can Do and Can’t Do, and see where the tweed jackets land versus agricultural lands.

  4. winter37 says:

    I would rather the Govt. spent our money on the Somerset farmers who provide a valuable service to the nation,and also on the local people to protect them in their homes,rather than give our money to the wind farmers who produce nothing of any value,kill birds and bats in their thousands,destroy deliberately our landscape,and laugh all the way to the bank.

  5. catweazle666 says:

    “It’s not cost-effective to use public money protecting agricultural land.”

    Presumably flood “experts” don’t have to eat.

  6. hunter says:

    The climate obsession madness is in full bloom when an allegedly serious science organization promotes the idea of abandoning farm lands to flooding. Especially flooding caused by negligent failures of governments to maintain flood control.