Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Britain's Katrina

As large tracts of southern England spend another submerged day, it is becoming clearer how ramshackle the response has been. The success of meeting the demands of the situation were down, more to luck and the dedication and skill of many in the emergency services, than design.

A report in 2004 made clear that the diversity of responsibility in the face of a natural disaster leads to confusion, delay and potential loss of life. It recommended that the Environment Agency would, in situations such as we are seeing today, take overall responsibility for co-ordination and decision-making.

In 2005, the Government agreed to this and said it would be in place by summer of 2006. We are still waiting.

Now I don’t believe that this is due to lack of Government concern or care, it was just that it was not a priority, and with a hot summer in 2006, followed by cabinet in-fighting, the risk of flooding receded. But this year, the flooding has been the worst since 1947, and the problems have been made worse by the way development and growth has been managed - Green Belt development and house building on ‘desirable’ green field sites, mean there is less land for the water to soak into.

Gordon Brown has already announced the intention to build 240,000 homes over the next 10 years or so – many of those have been earmarked to flood plains which, from where I sit, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Clearly we need houses, but much more thought is required at the planning stage into foreseeable environmental problems, as well as social issues, and their solutions. Clearly, not everything can be planned for, but much can, it just requires will.


sandegaye said...

You'd think people would learn from other's mistakes.. history & all that.

Hopefully this will cause the govt to think more towards future planning, since this is only going to get worse.. ("An Inconvenient Truth")

Jen said...

What's new, pussycat?

(Can you tell my folks like Tom Jones music??)