Last Winter I wrote a blog for HuffPost about the UK's issues with flooding and how we are partly ignoring the ways to fix it and instead looking to place blame. Well like everything in history, it looks like this same argument is once again repeating.
We once again come into the almost 'rainy-season-esque' period in the UK known as Winter. It now seems an annual ritual to debate and talk about the flooding that is occurring somewhere across the UK. What people do not seem to realise is that exact fact, the annual debate that goes on and is occurring across more and more winters. Despite this we seem to not realise that clearly there is a link between increased flooding, increased development, increased population in flood zone areas as well as the effects of climate change and its effects on global weather systems. We are seeing long-term changes and increases in rainfall and increased number of areas effected and devastated by flooding nearly annually, some areas new to this hazard and some very much veterans of it.
Today I listened in to another debate on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 as to whom is to blame for the UK flooding and weirdly it appears so much of the UK population are still un-willing to truly see the turbulent times in our changing climate and weather systems as well as the clear link between development and increased flooding in certain areas. The same debate goes on every year asking if we put the blame on the Environment Agency or the UK Government. Now of course both these stakeholders could put in place funding and management ways to help 'slow the flow', decrease impacted populations and effected property. However, they do not have the power to completely stop all flooding across the whole of the UK's various and varied environments, whether they are natural flood zones or not. We must start to look at the bigger picture that we are compacting more ground with development, creating more run-off, as well as putting more people at risk from flooding in areas that have always been at risk from these natural hazards, while we also deforest more and decrease funding for more natural ways of preventing flooding in areas across the UK. Now while we cannot turn back the hands of development, we can look to and evaluate how any new development will truly effect local flooding and the environment as well as measures that can be built in through planning to make sure all houses, driveways and gardens are designed as best as possible to allow water to pass through.
The blame game needs to stop, communities need to be made fully aware of the issues they are facing and may continue to for years to come. A proper dialogue needs to be opened and true, natural, management needs to occur. It has already been seen that in this latest series of flood events, as little as £750,000 of investment in all natural procedures, such as allowing fallen trees to block rivers and opening areas to flood naturally, has saved millions across the area of Somerset as well as stopping many villages from being effected. This is vital, as we continue to see the same views, debates and blame culture occurring every year.
These events are effecting more and more, putting increasing costs on local and national government as well as creating ever more problems and stresses for the already under-funded Environment Agency. We therefore need to look at a far more holistic approach where flood management, climate change, communities and development are looked at as one and inter-linking. This simple development could start to create real change in flood-effected societies and how government prepares areas to flooding.