ICM released their final monthly voting intention poll of 2015 yesterday, with topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 10%, GRN 3%. I assume it’s the last voting intention poll we will see before Christmas. The full tables are here, where ICM also make an intriguing comment on methodology. They write,

For our part, it is clear that phone polls steadfastly continue to collect too many Labour voters in the raw sample, and the challenge for phone polling is to find a way to overcome the systematic reasons for doing so. The methodological tweaks that we have introduced since the election in part help mitigate this phenomenon by proxy, but have not overcome the core challenge. In our view, attempting to fully solve sampling bias via post-survey adjustment methods is a step too far and lures the unsuspecting pollster into (further) blase confidence. We will have more to say on our methods in the coming months.


161 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 39, LAB 34, LD 7, UKIP 10, GRN 3”

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  1. MR JONES

    I couldn’t care less if they are “covering it up” -or not.

    Just as long as they go ahead and do it.

  2. they are doing it

    letting the rivers go back to their natural state is the “it”

  3. Excellent :-)

  4. I just hope the victims get to sue the people who are effectively trying to flood them out of their homes by stealth while pretending it’s natural causes.

  5. One of the main problems with planning and flood risk assessment, is that flood risk is defined by past events irrespective of subsequent flood prevention schemes.

    So an area that was flooded in 1965, and had a successful scheme in 1970 is still assessed as ‘high risk’, where development is strongly discouraged, despite the fact that risk is much reduced.

    Absurdly, in the case of my local river, the reverse is the case. The river has changed its course since the last big flood, and the river itself is now not in the official flood plain. A planning application for a house mid-stream would theoretically be supported by the Environment Agency.

    The flood risk assessments are very primitive.

  6. I don’t think there is any stealth involved.

    It is a very sensible thing to do -where it is possible to do it.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/297315/LIT8146_7024a9.pdf

  7. MILLIE

    @”The flood risk assessments are very primitive.”

    Well I’ve just looked at the EA’a Flood Risk Map for Tadcaster , where the bridge has just collapsed.

    It shows the Wharfe valley there as Flood Risk 3-ie “High Probability or Funcional Flood Plain “

  8. @ MrJones

    the 4 ft of water that appeared in my kitchen on the 7th of dec came from the river formally known as the A6 Shap Road.

    I’m not aware the EU has any plans to restore it to it’s natural state.

  9. Kentdalian

    Sympathies for your misfortune.

    If you haven’t already seen it, there’s a picture of the “atmospheric river” accompanying Storm Desmond, which caused your problem in this wiki article –

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_river

    It’s difficult to see how any flood defences can deal with the consequences of an atmospheric river depositing the water output of the Amazon over a populated area.

    Sensible land management, however, can minimise “normal” flooding events (as Colin points out).and reduce the effects of these “extreme” events.

  10. @Colin

    I can say with the confidence of someone who has lived in Tadcaster for over 25 years (up to about 2000), and visited regularly since, that while it has always flooded in a few places near to the river, the level and scope of the floods currently are worse than I can ever remember.

    That bridge is hundreds of years old, and survived all the River Wharfe could throw at it, albeit with some repairs a few years ago.

  11. @Hawthorn

    Well, he’s acting like it’s a brand new phenomenon and the reason we’re having the types of floods now that we weren’t 20 years ago…

    P.S. If you want to see something truly scary about the weather take a look at the following:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/12/iceland-storm-melt-north-pole-climate-change/422166/

    The same weather system that is bringing us our storms is set to make the temperatures above the Arctic go above freezing later this week – even though it’s mid-winter.

  12. @ candy

    Candy – here is a link to a Met Office report last year which states:

    “As yet, there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding.”

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/2014/uk-storms-and-floods

    Here is a link to what Mr Jones was talking about further upstream: the role of the EU in preventing the dredging of rivers.

    http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/flooding-cause-government-would-keep-10580092

    Dredging the rivers regularly along the whole of their lengths might be one part of the answers to prevent flooding.

  13. Candy.

    I grew up in West Yorkshire and I write this from only a few miles away from Calderdale. It is true that Calderdale is flood prone (steep valley sides and narrow valley floor). However, this is much worse than “normal” floods in its extent. I cannot remember there ever being floods in Leeds for example.

  14. I just hope all the politicians are learning something useful to apply to what’s happening.

  15. Keep it going folks, I’m learning more about floods and their causes, than I would have thought possible on a polling site, I suppose that, by their very nature, floods are refreshing, not unlike comments on UKPR, although, as a country sports participant of many years, this is the first time I have had cause to consider my role in the current, ( no pun intended ) disaster.

    And, while I’m at it, a happy and prosperous New Year from me, to all contributors to, and readers of, UKPR.

  16. Colin

    “I don’t think there is any stealth involved.”

    Really? So has a single member of the media-political class mentioned this flooding is deliberate govt. policy?

  17. @Sam – “Dredging the rivers regularly along the whole of their lengths might be one part of the answers to prevent flooding.”

    No it isn’t – it actually has entirely the opposite effect. Some highly selective dredging may be beneficial in reducing flood risks at specific points, but this almost always serves to increase risks further downstream. Such widespread dredging would also catastrophically damage river ecosystems.

    The most important principle for flood reduction is to slow down the transport of water through a catchment. I don’t normally like telling people they are ‘wrong’ on this site, as it comes across as quite personal, so please take this more as a comment on well established science, rather than as a comment directed at you personally: your comment is entirely wrong and is based on a fundamental ignorance of basic hydrology. If flood control was based on this idea, the results would be disastrous.

    @MrJones – one of the great sadnesses of these now regular bouts of horrendous flooding are that too many people seem to be falling back to attack their pet targets. This explains why the right wing press are going after the Environment Agency and some are attacking the EU. All of it misses the real targets.

    As it happens, restoring more natural river ecosystems is one very effective way to reduce flood risk. This is eminently proven, with a mass of research literature to back it up. It doesn’t solve all flooding, but it greatly helps protect against both floods and droughts. Reduced grazing, greater density of vegetation, increased forestry, less artificial drainage, allowing rivers to meander and flood unnoccupied flood plains, less constrained river channels, etc etc – all extremely effective ways to minimise dowstream flooding.

    Simply Increasing the height of flood barriers is a very ineffective approach, and If you really wanted to aim at a more appropriate target you might want to look at the EU and UK agricultural subsidy system. We are still paying millions of pounds of grants to the wealthy owners of grouse moor estates to install drainage systems and keep vegetation short. This is a desperately foolish approach to catchment management, and a waste of public money.

    Led by Tim Fallon and Rory Stewart, two MPs now bitterly complaining about flooding in their own constituencies, Natural England was forced to denounce their own report into upland management in 2012, precisely because it talked about rebalancing policy and spending away from agriculture towards a more holistic management approach, dealing with issues like flooding as well as keeping farmers.

    The Environment Agencies current call for a total rethink of flood management is a coded call to the government to stop favouring farming and sporting vested interests in the upper catchments and start taking the plight of towns and cities downstream seriously.

    There is a political element to this flooding crisis, but so far the limited intellect of the national press has meant that this is being played out through attacks on the Environment Agency for not building high enough barriers or for being on holiday when it rains. At some point the penny will drop, and there will be a more general recognition that we need to treat catchments as a single entity, instead of fannying about with civil construction projects in small areas while pretending there is no big picture.

  18. For example on the BBC website front page section related to flooding there is a link for “Analysis” which doesn’t mention that it’s EU policy to return rivers to their “natural” flood plains.

    Also do a google for: european rainfall map

    and you’ll see why the Atlantic coast specifically shouldn’t come under this policy.

  19. That article about dredging in the Chronicle is fascinating. Written by a former farmer (not, it is worth noting, with any experience of hydrology) it states –

    “…….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.”

    The key bit here is “..big enough to take any water that flowed into it…”, which is where the former farmer displays his ignorance.

    Further down he writes “…For Cumbrian rivers are notoriously quick to rise as the heavy rain that falls copiously on the High Fells rapidly runs off the thin soils…”.

    The simple fact is that too much water enters the rivers too quickly, partly because the Cumbrian fells are typified by an over grazed and completely false vegetation, which has led to a dramatic thinning of the soils, increased erosion (leading to river beds being altered through sediment mobilisation) and much, much faster run off.

    If the former farmer could widen his intellectual horizons he might see that slowing down the entry of water into the river system is far more important, as is allowing upstream flooding of natutal floodplains – but this involves farmers making changes.

    Instead, he pretends that C18th wisdom was somehow more scientifically aware than modern hydrology of the 21st century, and tries to blame flooding on the EU. Daft, but sadly not untypical of the farming community.

  20. @MrJones –

    “Also do a google for: european rainfall map
    and you’ll see why the Atlantic coast specifically shouldn’t come under this policy.”

    Umm – why not? It rains more on the Atlantic coast, and therefore the river systems are generally larger. Why should there be a difference?

    In hydrogeomorphic terms, river beds develop in response to the terrain and rainfall levels. Your comment lacks any sense.

  21. Alec

    So you’re agreeing it’s policy to allow rural areas to flood?

    Which is what I said.

    The EU, EA and govt are deliberately encouraging flooding in those areas the same as they are with the Somerset levels.

    Two points

    1) You say this policy is better for flooding overall but you also mention river ecosystems so for outsiders the question is how much does the green argument weigh in the balance. Is it really just about flooding or is it mostly about newts?

    2) Even if it was better for flooding overall the main point stands. Hundreds of thousands of people have been earmarked to be deliberately flooded out of their homes as an act of policy while the political class lies to them about natural causes.

    #

    “attacks on the Environment Agency for not building high enough barriers or for being on holiday when it rains.”

    You’ll note that all the stupid attacks on the EA avoid the real issue and thus act as a deflection.

  22. Interestingly, from 1950 the number of sheep in the UK rose from approximately 16m to a peak of just under 45m in the 1990’s. This was largely concentrated in the period after the introduction of the CAP payments for sheep after 1980.

    There was a sharp drop following foot and mouth in 2001, with a second more recent fall as the single area payment regime came in (farmers are now paid by the area farmed, not per head of stock) but numbers are now rising again and are up around 35m.

    It takes decades for ecosystems and soil structures to degrade, but the sooner farmers wake up to the fact that they could earn an income from a more naturally based management of uplands and floodplain, with flood prevention as one of the targeted outcomes, the better it would be for both flood risk are residents and farmers themselves.

  23. Alec

    “Umm – why not? It rains more on the Atlantic coast, and therefore the river systems are generally larger. Why should there be a difference?”

    The EU policy is to return rivers to their natural state.

    What is the natural state of the Atlantic facing west coast?

    #

    “The key bit here is “..big enough to take any water that flowed into it…”, which is where the former farmer displays his ignorance.”

    There is no ignorance. The farmer knows full well how to stop flooding *locally*.

    Your point according to you is that allowing it to flood there protects urban centres downstream.

    So he’s completely right in terms of the public debate. The problem is the public debate is dishonest because it’s leaving out that it’s policy to let his fields flood.

  24. @”or is it mostly about newts?”

    I love this metaphor for ” the countryside” or “wildlife” or “ecosystem” -or indeed the whole Biosphere :-)

  25. Colin

    If there’s a debate and a vote and people agree that allowing certain areas to flood is policy and the people to be flooded out get compensation then fair enough.

    Flooding people out deliberately while lying about natural causes is something else.

  26. MR JONES

    You would need to produce evidence that the EA has been instructed by Parliament to manage UK’s watercourses with methods which will cause damage to property , whilst deliberately concealing this policy & its likely effects from those put at risk by it-and has in fact done so.

  27. Colin

    1) google: EU rivers natural state

    for a long list of links describing the policy

    2) look for any mention of this policy in the weeks of reporting

  28. MR JONES

    But the issue you raisde was not a lack of Press Reporting about River Management policy-you claimed that the relevant authorities had “Lied” to householders about the risks you allege they have deliberately exposed them to.

    Proof of this please .

  29. Colin

    Have any ministers admitted this flooding is EU and thus govt policy?

  30. @Alec

    Very good. The best discussion of the floods I have seen anywhere.

  31. @Alec
    “I don’t normally like telling people they are ‘wrong’ on this site, as it comes across as quite personal, so please take this more as a comment on well established science, rather than as a comment directed at you personally: your comment is entirely wrong and is based on a fundamental ignorance of basic hydrology. If flood control was based on this idea, the results would be disastrous.”

    And I don’t mind being told I am wrong even if you/ anyone might be wrong to do so. There is nothing wrong in being wrong.

    This might interest you. They are extracts from documents produced by the Association of Drainage Authorities. I have provided the links.

    http://www.ada.org.uk/news_detail.php?id

    and http://www.ada.org.uk/downloads/other/downloads_page/Dredging%20-%20the%20views%20and%20experience%20of%20IDBs.pdf

    “ADA recognises that it is important to consider management techniques within the perspective of the water catchment as a whole and dredging should be considered as just one of a range of measures, but it is essential in low-lying areas where catchments are relatively flat, flow velocities are slow and pumps are often used. It is important to take full advantage of hydraulic gradients to achieve flow and this can only be achieved if capacity is maintained. Vegetation management such as weed removal is also essential for maintain capacity. ADA disagrees with calls that dredging is ‘bad for the environment’. Dredging activity, if carried out sympathetically and as a planned operation, has no detrimental effect on wildlife or species using the watercourse as their habitat. Dredging and other maintenance activity can actually enhance the water body ecologically. Failure to carryout regular dredging in low lying areas can result in the watercourse becoming so silted up that there is insufficient water to sustain a balanced ecosystem. A build up of silt and rotten vegetation can also impact on oxygen levels. Dredging watercourses on a rotational basis ensures that there is always a mixed and varied habitat at various stages of siltation.”

    and

    “Benefits of dredging – flood risk
    Over time sediments are deposited in slow-moving watercourses. Dredging, also referred to as desilting and
    mudding, removes the build up of sediment from a watercourse. Dredging is therefore essential for
    maintaining the capacity of the watercourse to the required standard. For IDBs that are maintaining the
    transmission of water, in low-lying areas where catchments are relatively flat, flow velocities are slow and
    pumps are often used, dredging is a crucial activity. It is important to take full advantage of hydraulic gradients
    to achieve flow. This is most effectively achieved if the capacity of channels is maintained through dredging
    and other maintenance activity such as weed removal.
    Regular dredging ensures adequate conveyance of floodwaters so when water levels in a channel are high, the
    channel’s greater capacity allows water to flow freely through the channel. Where an event exceeds the
    capacity of the watercourse and there is overtopping and flood storage areas (washes, reservoirs) are under
    water, higher capacities in the channel maintained by dredging activity means water can be evacuated at a
    faster rate, providing the ability to recover before the next rainfall event. If the watercourse is working as
    efficiently as possible, the duration of the flooding is minimised. “

  32. The problem with spending billions on flood defences is that there is no guarantee that they will ever be needed. Nobody can predict what the likely weather patterns will be over the next few years. Weather is chaotic. I predict that many of the new flood defences which will inevitably be constructed in the aftermath of the present floods, will be denounced as expensive white elephants within a few years, especially if floods happen elsewhere.

  33. @Mrjones – I think there is a bit of confused thinking here. The government is trying to meet the WFD objectives, primarily regarding water quality as it happens, rather than hydromorphic river character, although there are areas where the two are connected.

    Issues like sediment load and river bank stabilisation are important, although they vary from one catchment to another, so that you can be prevented from doing something in one river that might increase sediment mobilisation, while encouraged to remove obstructions in another for precisely the reverse effect – it depends on the ecology and hydrology of the system. [One important element missed by the pro dredging campaigners is that if you constantly remove sediment from some river stretches, you may well be depriving deposition areas downstream of the material required to maintain natural river banks and flood containment systems. This is what has happened on the east coast, where hard sea walls are depriving coasts of natural materials further south, leading to greater coastal erosion elsewhere.]

    However, no one is deliberately flooding homes to favour ecosystems – that would be plain daft as a policy, and it’s plain daft to suggest that this is what is happening.

    Where I think you have this wrong is that the government is practice currently misapplying the WFD, or at least failing to connect policies across other areas.

    The entire point of good flood defence, and indeed what has been done for generations, is to accept that flooding will occur at times, but to work to control how and where is occurs. Allowing flooding on traditional flood plains (like the Somerset Levels) with no or few residential properties, as a way to protect towns and cities is perfectly sensible.

    However, government policy and spending often prevents this. Internal Drainage Boards tend to be dominated by local landowners, who tend to place the protection of their agricultural land as a high priority, while paying too little attention to impacts on residential areas downstream.

    Similarly, farm subsidies encourage drainage, overgrazing and deforestation, and do not have any element of water management beyond drainage subsidies. Indeed, under the last Environment Secretary, there was internal pressure on the EA and Natural England not to pursue legal actions against rich landowners who had illegally drained sensitive upland areas in direct contravention of local conservation regulations. [Interestingly, there was a specific case of this above Hebden Bridge, which suffered serious flooding earlier in the month.]

    What is actually happening is that government is spending money on catchment priorities that make the flooding of towns and cities worst, rather than deliberately flood these places to improve river ecology.

    I suspect the central error you are making is to assume this is a case of flooded houses verses good ecology. In fact, good ecological management means less flooding, with the problem being that this means a more diverse use of non residential farmland. It’s this latter element that is not happening, and the reason why so many of these flooding episodes have far greater impacts than they should have.

    The EA wants to apply the EU concepts of natural river systems precisely because they know this will help to reduce flooding, as well as deliver better ecosystems, but are prevented from doing so by a government in hoc to a powerful landowner and agricultural sector who want to protect their own interests.

    You really are aiming at the wrong target.

  34. Good posts Alec.

  35. @Sam – worth noting that I haven’t said there should be no dredging, and there are cases when it may be the best policy, but also note my point in the post that crossed with yours – who runs the drainage boards.

    For example, one of the reasons that the EA did not want to dredge wholesale in the Somerset Levels was to protect downstream homes in Minehead from flooding. If you have a look at this link – http://www.somersetdrainageboards.gov.uk/notice-board/archive/axe-brue-elections-2013/ you can see the problem.

    This shows the election results for the 28 elected members of the Somerset Drainage Board Consortium. One post remains vacant, and of the 27 elected, 27 of them are farmers. There are a further 21 appointed members, all of whom are councillors, and all (as far as I can make out) represent the local wards, with none representing Minehead or downstream wards.

    I would suggest that this provides strong evidence that the control of Internal Drainage Boards, and the millions of pounds of taxpayers money they control, is highly likely to be managed for the primary benefit of local farmers, rather than for the benefit of downstream flood victims.

    I would therefore tend to be careful when examining the claims of drainage boards, as they are not representative of catchment wide interests.

  36. Apologies for boring people with lengthy and technical posts, but what else to do on a wet afternoon in Northern England?

    In the spirit of UKPR, I did ponder what the polling implications of flooding could be. In practice, I suspect none – this is seen as a natural event, with the impacts of global warming too remote and uncertain, and the intricacies of catchment management too complex to excite most voters, not to mention that if you are busy mopping up (I really feel for you, @Kentdalian – must be awful) I suspect you are not really thinking about who to vote for at the next election.

    However, I do feel Labour have missed a trick here. In truth, I doubt Labour understands the issues either, but the only political comments I have seen so far fall back to the tired cliches about spending levels on flood defence.

    There is an opportunity for an opposition to focus on the wider picture, and explore the use of public finance in the uplands and agricultural sector, drawing in environmental considerations and issues of equity. As my posts illustrate, my personal belief is that the issues are less about the height of flood barriers, but more about how we approach landscape scale land management. Is it for the benefit of the few landowners, or the many urban and riverside dwellers?

    There is a rich political vein for Labour to mine here, but I doubt their willingness and ability to grasp the message.

  37. There was a (paywall) article in the Sunday Times by Jonathan Leake (appropriate name?) on 16/11/2014. The headline was “Failure to clear rivers threatens flood chaos”.

    Here is a short extract. I cannot access the whole article.

    “The study, by Environment Agency (EA) engineers, warns that government cuts in flood defence spending have left many watercourses so blocked by silt and vegetation that prolonged rain could cause flooding along 1,700 stretches.”

    Here is the link: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/National/article1484452.ece

  38. @Alec

    “As my posts illustrate, my personal belief is that the issues are less about the height of flood barriers, but more about how we approach landscape scale land management. Is it for the benefit of the few landowners, or the many urban and riverside dwellers?”

    Here is what the ADA says (and it may be the voice of the landowner).

    “The main issue is that the treasury, prompted by Government, is focused on growth, which, in essence, results in new capital schemes at the expense of ongoing maintenance of existing assets. Much has been made of the 20-year lack of maintenance in Somerset which has allowed rivers to silt-up, but how has the funding mechanism for flood protection works produced this result? And how are funds allocated to the various projects needing delivery each year? ” ………

    ” A transparent and sensible method at first glance, but the crux of the matter is the financial value allocated to the assets protected. Property and businesses are the main drivers for establishing this value, and a notional pounds-per-hectare value is also allocated to farmland. This inevitably steers funding allocation towards schemes in urban areas, whilst rural schemes rank too low to attract the funds they need to be delivered.”

  39. Alec

    That’s a very long-winded way of saying there is a conflict between two policies.

    1) The old policy where local groups acted to stop flooding in their area.

    2) The new policy where some areas are to be abandoned to flooding because some people believe that will have net better outcomes.

    So why is there a conflict?

    The people advancing the new policy don’t want a public debate and they don’t want to compensate the people in the areas they intend to abandon. They’ll keep letting those people be flooded out until they move.

  40. @Sam – the maintenance issue is interesting, and rings true, as does the basis of the economic benefit calculations. This seems sensible, as people’s homes and businesses should have a higher priority than farmland, which appears to be what the ADA is complaining about – perhaps displaying their vested interest?

    @Mrjones – I don’t think there is a conflict, as we don’t really have conflicting policies. As @Sam’s post shows, there is a standard decision making process applied to flood defence work, which places a value on the defended property, which will always favour built up areas to farmland.

    The current debate is much more about whether we should develop a new approach, which would be designed to reduce flooding by alternative ways of managing land.

    Part of this could possibly include removing defences from certain areas, and in some extreme cases this may also involve schemes to move small numbers of people to safer areas. However, you are posting as if this policy is already being applied on a wide scale – it is not, and it is misleading to try to claim otherwise.

    As a general point, it’s interesting to note that since the time of Henry VIII, a principle of law has been that the state is not liable to compensate landowners for losses from sea or river flooding (so long as agencies have not been negligent) and there is likewise no statutory requirement for the state to defend property.

    Should we get to the point where the state is asking some landowners to accept periodic flooding as part of an active flood management regime, I would anticipate that this would carry with it some form of payment, as this would be a land use function being purchased by the state, so not an example of flood compensation.

  41. Here are links that show how a Water Level Management group came into being.

    “Last year the Environment Agency (EA) announced that they were withdrawing from maintenance of drainage ditches and the running of the drainage pumps in the South Cumbria area. There is also the potential that the EA will, at some time in the future, withdraw from the maintenance of certain rural water courses.

    This change in policy is following Government cuts to the Agency which has meant they are now only able to concentrate on managing flood risk to people and residential property. ” …….

    “The consequences of this, without any further action, would be to considerably increase the wetting up of the area with
    increased possibilities of flooding occurring on land and on roads in the area including the A5074 and the A590.”

    “Given the enormity of the situation a group [South Cumbria Water Level Management Group – SCWLMG – formerly Lyth
    & Winster Land Drainage Group] under the Chairmanship of Jim Bland (County Councillor) was set up to look into the feasibility of creating a Body to take over the running and maintenance of the present system and bring together the wishes and aspirations of all the groups active in the drainage areas. The situation in South Cumbria is not unique and the Government accepts that there is a requirement that IDBs are set up nationally in areas of special drainage, need where IDB’s do not currently operate. The government also requested the EA and the Association of Drainage Authorities to work with the SCWLMG to look into the feasibility of creating an IDB in the area. Indeed given an IDB has
    not been set up since the middle of the last century it was decided that the SCWLMG would be used as a ‘pilot’ to create a new set of national guidance procedures for use throughout the country. ”

    Link: http://www.crosthwaiteandlyth.co.uk/documents/SCWLMG%20Press%20%20Public%20Notice%201.pdf

    and here: http://www.fwi.co.uk/farm-life/cumbria-farmers-to-take-control-of-drainage.htm

  42. @Alec

    The first thing to say is that you are completely right – the correct approach is an holistic one, which recognises the importance of land use in the upland areas. There is a complete lack of joined up thinking in the way that government approaches this issue. It has become a battleground between the interventionists and the ‘let nature take its course’ enthusiasts. Both sides see it as a war rather than a debate.

    The central point, which I think you well appreciate, is that there are circumstances in which intervention works. I myself live beside a river which has not flooded since 1968 precisely because some clever engineers designed a successful scheme. Settlements need to be protected wherever possible.

    What is needed is a reasonable approach led by qualified people. Too often the decision-making process is a mix of ignorant and opinionated councillors, eco-warriors who regard all private sector individuals as anathema, and vested landowner interests looking after themselves without a thought for anyone else. Its an awful mix, and the wiser types are often excluded.

    There are exactly the same problems with coastal erosion. Here on the Jurassic Coast, Natural England insist on little or no intervention, because the supply of fossils must be maintained. They forget that the cliffs are therefore so dangerous that the public are banned from the beaches underneath, thus ensuring that no fossil can ever be collected. They want to move an entire community three miles inland. Meanwhile we have a group of Donald Trump types who want to build the biggest sea wall imaginable. The rest of us argue for a common sense approach and just despair.

  43. Why don’t we just bomb these El Nino people, who are causing this bad weather?

  44. @RMJ1

    The problem with spending billions on flood defences is that there is no guarantee that they will ever be needed. Nobody can predict what the likely weather patterns will be over the next few years. Weather is chaotic. I predict that many of the new flood defences which will inevitably be constructed in the aftermath of the present floods, will be denounced as expensive white elephants within a few years, especially if floods happen elsewhere.

    This is likely.

    Those living in affected areas will expect the Government to do everything to prevent flooding occuring, while those who live in higher areas, off flood plains etc might think those who buy houses on flood plains have put themselves at risk.

    The aspect that interests me is the pooling of insurance risk for homes. Basically those who live in low risk areas might wonder why their insurance might go up (or not go down) to offset a high risk property.

    I live in a post code that means my car insurance is about £200 per year higher than if I live in a leafy village five miles away.

    Maybe I should ask them if they would mind paying more, so my premiums would go down?

    All the above is playing devil’s advocate, and do not necessarily represent my views, but they are valid questions for many people no doubt.

  45. Some good posts on here, though I do not claim to understand all the engineering and land management science details by any means. I hope influential members of the main political parties are listening, and they probably are. Very sorry for individuals affected though.

    However, as one or two have also posted there is a big potential for conflict between the various interests and groups involved. Governments may not like to create large groups of ‘losers’ in this sense. Sometimes the can is kicked down the road almost indefinitely, for example the revaluation of property for the assessment of Council tax (apart from Northern Ireland I believe).

    The flooding is a potential source of unpopularity for more than one political party, but the governing party has the most to lose as it can easily be blamed. Not necessarily fatal for a government though – Labour took action on the Foot and Mouth epidemic and survived.

  46. Hello everyone from a wet Bournemouth East, and I hope everyone is having fun in their own ways.

    NEIL A.
    Do you think Swingback will occur in 2020?
    Do you also think that the 2015 patterns will continue into this Parliament, with Labour doing well with core votes and badly where Labour needs to gain?

  47. @Alec.

    Bravo. Good to hear the calm voice of reason so patiently and politely responding to suggestions that would have most of us resorting to sarcasm and scorn.

    Just one point: when you mention Minehead as the potential victim of displaced Somerset Levels flooding, I assume you mean Bridgwater. Otherwise the floods will have to take a long, winding and often uphill journey along the A39!

  48. Good Evening All.
    I think that Labour is maintaining its position in core areas, but falling back in the areas held by Tories in 2015, which Labour needs to win in order to form a Government.

  49. @somerjohn – I must be mixing up my southwest towns.

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