Wednesday, June 11, 2008

At least you'll know in advance that your screwed

Two pieces on flood issues just in.

One is a full quote from an LGA PR; the other a BBC story.

LGA response to flooding report - press release - 11 June 2008

In response to the Environment Commission report into last year's flooding, the Local Government Association has called for the Government to introduce a legal requirement for all organisations to co-operate and fight the risk of flooding.

The LGA is calling for a change in the law and a new statutory framework which would compel water companies and others to co-operate with councils, share information and prepare flood prevention plans. Any organisation that failed to co-operate would be penalised.

Cllr Paul Bettison, Chairman of the LGA Environment Board, said:

“The current system is fundamentally flawed. We simply cannot continue to have a situation where it is not clear who is responsible for dealing with vitally important functions such as drainage.

“There are glaring gaps in this country’s readiness to cope with widespread and prolonged flooding. Last summer’s floods were no fluke, and we run the real risk of witnessing a repeat – or worse – unless urgent action is taken now.

“We need to get back to basics. There should be no opt-out, no excuses and clear penalties for anybody who refuses to co-operate with managing our water systems. Councils should be allowed to start banging heads together so we can be better prepared to protect people and property.”

“More extreme weather is an unavoidable consequence of climate change. Last summer’s floods exposed flaws in how prepared the country was and the effect of years of under-funding. Greater investment now will save much bigger costs in the future.”

Under the current system, it is often unclear who has responsibility for managing flood risk and maintaining drainage systems. In some parts of the country a myriad of different bodies – including the Environment Agency, councils, private landowners and water companies – have these powers but often do not share information with each other.

BBC - Laser maps flood-prone areas

Hence I am again frustrated and concerned, if not surprised to read such as this:

'The Local Government Association has called for the Government to introduce a legal requirement for all organisations to co-operate and fight the risk of flooding.'

What? You mean they are not... yet??? Such as Cllr. Bettison are bang on, and the wonder is how this is still the case, after all that has gone before and will transpire again.

And while whizz bang techno stuff is all well and good, if those theoretically 'in charge' cannot organize themselves, getting better warnings seems to be unlikely to inspire most of the population much, especially if many of the replies in the BBC HYS section are to be taken as a measure.

I welcome better data, but it has to be provided and supported with tangible actions.

I live in a low point of a town on the River Wye. I bought the house following a survey that discovered that since it was built, in the 17th century, it has never been flooded. Those old folk knew a thing or two about building, and what was meant by... flood plains. So I pay attention in advance to such wise experience.

And I am glad to say my insurers are happy to go along with that (for now), despite the Enviro Agency's current map having got my house slap bang in one. Oddly, it also has my neighbours' three houses up in it too, despite being about 40' (80x the 6” that makes all the difference) higher up the hill.

Anyway, being a believer in prevention being better than cure, I have for the last few years tried to pursue with various bodies - council, Environment Agency, Waterways Board - how I might better protect my property should things deteriorate. I think Ican do so and weather future storms rather than wailing and claiming compo, as seems the vogue. Not big on the victim culture.

Thing is, I need some advice at least (help if its available, but being practical I'd say dream on). I have a mark on the wall showing the level AOD (Above Ordnance Datum). All I need to know is what, in the next 50-100 years, are the chances of something going above that, and to what height. Then I can prepare coffer walls and entryway/hole covers to deploy on warning (very prompt system on email and mobile, though a little lacking on much beyond screaming 'prepare for the worst!!'. Wolf and crying kicks in a tad here).

Sadly, to no avail so far. Each, as suggested here, points at the other, and/or various colourful websites that are pretty of little use.

Officers are 'busy', and have been for years. But I got the offer of 'a' sandbag once.

If this is the level of support to a householder who is prepared to DIY, and pay for it all himself, I am not too inspired as to how it's going to improve very much for those in less of a position to do so.

But I am sure many reports will get prepared, boxes ticked, and sombre spokespersons from multiple, overlapping public bodies explaining how it happened this time due to ‘unexpected circumstances’.

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