High pressure, low expectations. What a shower . . .

High pressure, low expectations. What a shower . . .


Here’s a little memory test: try to remember a day when it didn’t rain.

Jon Simcock
Jon Simcock

Since the start of December a near-biblical 14 inches of rain has fallen across the Midlands and South of England.

That’s the most for at least 248 years, when records of any sort first began.

The result has been clear for all to see.

With more than 8,000 homes flooded and tens of thousands of acres under water, it is no surprise that financial giants Deloitte reckon the whole soggy saga will cost up to £1bn by the time it is done.

And, of course, the politicians have done themselves proud by once again turning a national crisis into a near-literal exercise in mud-slinging.

With parts of Somerset now cut off for more than a month, the Thames threatening to deluge much of its length and the Severn starting to bare its teeth closer to home, it is only natural that our ruling class seize the opportunity to blame each other.

With a staggering lack of empathy for those whose homes and businesses have been lost to the water, our politicians decided playing the blame game was more important than doing anything positive.

So we get Labour blaming the Tories, the Conservatives blaming Labour, ministers launching a full-frontal attack on the head of the Environment Agency (who happens to be a former Labour minister) and then even falling out with each other as they seek to make political gain out of our misery.

One wonders just what planet these clowns are on.

For the rest of us, the grim truth is that these events are likely to become more common rather than the reverse.

With relaxations in planning rules, more homes are being built in vulnerable areas, more rainfall gets diverted straight into our waterways because of the increase in hard-standing associated with development, and the lack of dredging and other measures means there is simply less capacity in the system.

Farmers, naturally, want more of their land to be commercially viable, rather than being left as water meadows and the like, particularly in light of the fact that each flooded farm costs between £30,000 and £90,000.

The time has long since passed for a comprehensive look at our flooding strategy. As a result, the extra money the Government is pumping in is likely to be too little, too late. A proverbial finger in the dam wall.

What must happen now is long-term planning to decide how best to protect the maximum possible number of homes, businesses and farms from the floods which will inevitably come in the future.

Failure to do so by our politicians would be as inexcusable as the petty catfights of the last week.