What the authorities won’t tell you about the floods

Posted: December 26, 2015 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Cameron chairs the flooding committee meeting tomorrow. He needs to read Paul Homewoods blog so he knows we’re onto him and his EU chums crazy schemes.


Guest Post by Philip Walling

Author of Counting Sheep, Philip Walling

Author of Counting Sheep, Philip Walling

This article was originally published in the Newcastle Journal earlier this month:

Amid all the devastation and recrimination over the floods in Cumbria hardly anybody mentions one factor that may not be the sole cause, but certainly hasn’t helped, and that is the almost complete cessation of dredging of our rivers since we were required to accept the European Water Framework Directive (EWF) into UK law in 2000.
Yet until then, for all of recorded history, it almost went without saying that a watercourse needed to be big enough to take any water that flowed into it, otherwise it would overflow and inundate the surrounding land and houses. Every civilisation has known that, except apparently ours. It is just common sense. City authorities and, before them, manors and towns and villages, organised themselves to make sure their watercourses were…

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  1. Bill H says:

    While a polemic such as this written by a layperson with no very clear qualifications in the subject on which he writes can be entertaining the views of professionals working in this area are rather different.

    From a recent report from the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management:

    “More generally, this report shows that dredging is not a universal solution to flooding. Numerous studies dating back to the 1980’s have shown that dredging can speed up flow and potentially increase the risk of flooding downstream and have devastating unintended consequences for wildlife and people’s homes and businesses.”

    The Institution does give dredging its due under certain circumstances, indicating that, contrary to the article you quote, dredging DOES continue to be publicly in this country.

    “That is not to say dredging has no role to play. It can reduce water levels on a local scale and may be critical to flood risk management in key locations; that’s why the Environment Agency spent £45 million on channel maintenance in 2012/13. However, dredging cannot hope to prevent flooding caused when heavy rainfall results in flows that vastly exceed the capacity of the river channel.”

    So Walling’s assertion that as a result of an EU directive in 2000 “there are no funds for dredging” appears to be quite untrue. It also appears that, chez Homewood, Notalotofpeopleknowthat.

  2. Shades of Somerset. https://contrary2belief.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/somerset-floods-manmade-disaster/

    Dregding is useful for making sure that the water drains away from areas likely to be damaged by heavy flooding; to areas that are relatively insensitive or even designated to take flood water; as in the Netherlands’ polders.

  3. Brian White says:

    If you want to prevent flooding, you have to increase the permeability of the soil in winter. It might mean leaving fallow areas beside fields too so seepage can occur. I have seen water race off of fields especially after sheep or after winter harvest of tillage crops. Do a quick calculation, no rivers can take this instant massive volume of water. And I bet the water tables drops way down in summer even with the flooding. The real problem is that the ground is not permeable enough.

  4. tchannon says:

    Unusual rainfall in small localities are quite common but ill recorded by instrumentation. This is the nature of rainfall noise. Local “explosive” extremes. Why these can happen over say weeks is a mystery.

    I’ve seen plenty of these over the years.

    A notable one was on an area of the downs a couple of years ago. An amazing amount of water just kept on flooding out where normally there are chalk streams, tend to stable. Today you can see the huge drains put in, look silly. Put in is not quite right… these were how the drains were, there had been a failure to maintain.

    An odd one many years ago, late 1970s, heavens opened. Few hours later I need to drive home, across country, know the roads very well. Still rain hammering down we waded to my car, I then picked a likely route taking great care where there were hollows. Could wade to maybe 18 inches, I don’t like looking out of the window and seeing water close, above the floor, cars float.
    No trouble. After 15 miles where I dropped someone off the road in was more like a swift river, above the kerbs. As I arrived home the rain stopped.

    I’ve seen biblical rain in Italy, whole areas appearing under water. At this point I suddenly understood the purpose of the flood channels leading to the sea which are normally dry.

    Similarly bridges removed in winter. Or chain parapets. (free flow of water)

    In France one summer I noticed flood marks in an old village and double take. Where is the river? I found the dribble, a gulp, how could water rise that far?

    I expect the blame will be placed on excess water being transported from the warm Atlantic. It is though peak rainfall season. It is not just the amount of rain, where it falls tends to produce troubles if heavy rain is out of it’s usual place. Would what we have seen be so out of place further north?

  5. tallbloke says:

    Much less population density further north, less housing on floodplains. West Yorks and Lancs is heavily populated, with much new development in the wrong places, also overloading old sewers and main drains.

  6. tallbloke says:



    The government will spend £540m a year on flooding defences in England over the next four years – a cut of 8% from previous periods, the environment department has confirmed.
    The money will go towards 108 projects already under construction and 187 schemes under consideration.
    But projects in Leeds, York, Thirsk and Morpeth have been put on hold.
    Environment Minister Richard Benyon disputed claims from Labour’s Mary Creagh that schemes had been cancelled.
    Responding to an urgent question in the Commons tabled by Ms Creagh, he said better protection was being provided to more than 145,000 homes.
    He added that just because projects were not included in his announcement it did “not amount to the government cancelling schemes or saying that any particular scheme cannot go ahead in the future”.
    The Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland, and the Labour MP for Leeds East, George Mudie, both criticised the decision to shelve flood defence work in the city.
    It’s the nature of flood and coastal defence investment that there are always more projects than national budgets can afford at any one time
    Richard Benyon, Environment Minister
    Mr Mudie said: “Leeds city centre came within centimetres of flooding in 2000 and had numerous near misses. This is the largest city in the north and it cannot be allowed to be knocked out by flooding.”

  7. tallbloke says:

    Bill H: So Walling’s assertion that as a result of an EU directive in 2000 “there are no funds for dredging” appears to be quite untrue.

    One of the problems is that under the EU directives, dredgings have to be disposed of as ‘hazardous waste’. This soaks up a lot of the money which should be making more of a difference. Same story in the Somerset Levels a while ago.

  8. Richard111 says:

    Richard North gave a good summation of the flooding problem a while back.


    Why isn’t it mentioned anywhere that there has been no dredging in the UK for some years now?

  9. tallbloke says:

  10. catweazle666 says:

    Bill H says: “While a polemic such as this written by a layperson with no very clear qualifications in the subject on which he writes can be entertaining the views of professionals working in this area are rather different.

    From a recent report from the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management:…”

    Really…”the views of professionals working in this area”, eh?

    Like the professionals working in the area of nutrition who assured us that margarine was healthier than butter?

    Or the medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies working in the area of gastric medicine who were totally assured that stress was responsible for gastric ulcers?

    Or even the “experts” in the Royal Society, such as Lord Kelvin, who asserted that heavier-than-air flight was impossible?

    Or this, from Roger Harrabin, BBC environment correspondent:

    I remember Lord May leaning over and assuring me: “I am the President of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over.”


    So centuries of dredging by manual methods, based on practical experience was a waste of effort, was it?

    As an engineer who has been hearing such pontification for my whole career, consider me unimpressed.

  11. A hefty fine!
    1524 Court rolls of Henbury,
    Stoke Gyfford,
    And the common water-course at Whitelesyate under Le Parke corner.
    Penalty against lies flooding by neglect by Juliana Baker. She is ordered to scour that water course by the next view under penalty of 6s. 8d.