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Memo to the Environment Agency: humans have needs too

10 February 2014

It is not surprising that the Environment Agency (EA) have come under attack for the flooding in South West England. What is surprising is how long it took people to catch on to the fact that if anyone was to blame, it was the EA, not Owen Paterson.  As this week’s  leading article in The Spectator says,  ‘the unprecedented scale of this mess is not just due to nature. It is a disaster that has resulted from a deliberate policy followed by the Environment Agency since, 18 years ago, it was given overall responsibility for river management and flood defences throughout England.’

The agency decided – perhaps mistakenly – that wildlife is more important than humans, and their livelihoods. The irony is that unfortunately for the wildlife of South West England, the urban bureaucrats have even managed to destroy much of the ‘natural habitats’ which they had hoped to nurture through not dredging the rivers. Funnily enough, few ground-dwelling animals or non-aquatic plants will survive underwater for a month.

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With responsibility for dredging lying with a quango led by a Labour peer, and with a Conservative in charge of Defra, it was inevitable that this fiasco was going to turn into a political issue. So all credit goes to Eric Pickles, who seems to want to get on with the job of tackling the floods as well as can be done:

‘We made a mistake, there’s no doubt about that and we perhaps relied too much on the Environment Agency’s advice… I think it is important now that we get on the process of getting those people back into their houses once we are able to really do some serious pumping.’

A petition for the EA’s Chairman Chris Smith to be sacked has already been launched, but there seems little point when he’s due to step down in July anyway. Let’s just hope that their next appointment has a better understanding of the need to balance the needs of humans and wildlife. Listening to Tessa Munt’s campaign for the EA to include among their aims ‘the protection of productive land’ might be a good start.

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Show comments
  • andagain

    Funnily enough, few ground-dwelling animals or non-aquatic plants will survive underwater for a month.

    They will be replaced. Cycle of life and all that…

  • Jambo25

    I notice that the TV seems to be showing a distinct upturn in relief activity by various government agencies now that the floods have extended to the Thames and the outskirts of London where important people live. Not like those yokels in the West Country.

  • Graeme S

    Ive said before and I ,ll say it again … we need ministers with proper experience and a track record of delivering services and projects under budget and on time. Qualification should not include and being a mate of Westminster uphill gardeners club or being an uphill gardener

  • kyalami

    Shut the EA down. Cut the budget in half and let local groups apply for matched funds for their EA type projects.

  • William Haworth

    Does getting Chris Smith out before July mean he doesn’t qualify for his full pension? If so, where’s that petition?

    • Slim Jim

      Oh, I wouldn’t worry about his pension. His gravy boat is full to overflowing, no doubt.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    The state is to blame.
    The Quangos are to blame.
    The state is not to blame.
    The Quangos are not to blame.

    Repeat this mantra ad nauseam until the deeper truth within reveals itself.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …are you any relation to that other obtuse nutter, who used to litter this site with impenetrable gibberish?

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Good spot. Keep those eyes peeled for socialist nutters!

        • the viceroy’s gin

          They’re flooding in though. They need to be dredged out.

          • an ex-tory voter

            They have already been “dredged out” which is why they post such drivel.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Ahh, Mr Viceroy – you liked all my socialist nutter stuff when I first started posting here. Why have you changed your mind now?
        Did I finish off your young apprentice Doggie Russell Skywalker or that God-awful swanky nurse?

        I am quite happy to address all the nutjobs on this blog, pal. There are quite a few I haven’t had time to deal with yet. I’m happy to keep you in the loop.

        PS: I know my socialists when I see them. Paterson, Pickles and that Lord ‘Planet of the Apes’ Smith are all on my list of top 100 ineptocrats to be mocked by 2015.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …yes, you’re more than a relation, laddie. Got shamed out and had to rename, huh?

  • John Smith

    Not when it comes to the EU & Labour

  • Baron

    Humans may indeed have rights in enlightened Britain, Camilla, but only if they tick the right boxes, here they obviously don’t what with being mostly white, mostly of heterosexual orientation, mostly following the teaching of anyone but Allah …. And on top of it, living mostly in rural communities. Why should any Government spend money on such humans, ha?

  • Peter Stroud

    Whatever are this government’s views on quangos as an idea, it is clear that the Environment Agency has failed. Whether this was due to the awful Lady Young, Lord Smith, or the EU directives: it has failed. It has been suggested elsewhere in this journal, that it should be dismantled. That is an excellent suggestion. Let its responsibilities go back to ministers. Elected representatives, not tired ex politicians.

    • ButcombeMan

      The sometimes quite awful Today program, Radio 4, this morning managed a bit of a coup, on the Somerset flooding.

      About 0810 it failed to get proper answers out of Smith and at about 0845, failed to get proper explanation from Baroness Young (who was there actually to talk about diabetes). Nice job.

      Two deeply evasive and very guilty people I concluded.

      Examples of all that is worst in British public life, Experts on everything but masters of nothing

    • Slim Jim

      Elected or not, they can be just as incompetent as the quangocrats. We are being failed massively. Whoever is in charge, their hands will be tied by EU directives and/or government policy.

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