Posts Tagged 'Flooding'

Flooding: The Baroness Young and RSPB connection is even stronger than first identified

An interesting document has surfaced on the European Commission’s website, which enables us to understand a bit more of the complicated ‘wheels within wheels’ of overlapping organisational responsibility for the deliberate policy of surrendering managed environments to floodwater that has seen much of the Somerset levels submerged.

The document is the ‘Wise use of floodplains – a demonstration of techniques to evaluate and plan floodplain restoration’.  In other words, giving back reclaimed wetland that had been drained and while a managed environment had become home to many small communities and farms.

What stands out about this document is that the project (which is outlined on the short document linked above) is the timing and the funding.  It ran from 1st April 1999 until 1st April 2002 and was co-funded by the RSPB (which was the driving force behind the project) and the WWF to the tune of €1,056,065.85, a sum that was topped up with almost 50% of matched funding from the European Union – some €1,052,044.45 of taxpayers’ money – taking the total project budget to €2,108,110.30.

The timing and funding sources are significant because this kicked off in 1999 while Barbara Scott Young, aka Baroness Young of Old Scone the Labour peer, was the Chief Executive of… the RSPB.  Little over a year later, Baroness Young left the RSPB to take up appointment as Chief Executive of the very public body that would be able to implement the ‘restoration’ of floodplains and wetlands through policy… the Environmental Agency.

The bird loving flooding facilitator

The bird loving flooding facilitator

In terms of overseeing implementation of the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive, and their policies of ‘restoring’ wetlands and floodplains to a water covered state, Young’s transfer from the RSPB to the Environment Agency was the political equivalent of putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

In no way can it be argued that Labour put an impartial Chief Executive in charge of the Environment Agency, someone who would use the agency’s substantial human and financial resources to best effect to ensure adequate protection of the communities and businesses located in managed environments such as the Somerset levels.

Labour put in place one of their own to fulfil EU policy underpinned by a number of directives; a woman who was a zealot in matters of wildlife and habitats and whose approach we have already reported was in order to achieve ‘instant wildlife: just add water‘.  A woman whose desired outcome for the pumping stations that prevented the Somerset levels from being drowned was to destroy them with limpet mines to ensure reclaimed land was flooded again, in the expectation that habitats for the birds she values above the lives and livelihoods of the communities that would be swamped.

The moment Barbara Young was put in charge of the Environment Agency, the events of this winter (and last winter on a smaller scale) became inevitable.  When she was appointed what we saw was a RSPB take over the Environment Agency.  Backed by EU directives, the RSPB’s woman in the Environment Agency hot seat set about pursuing the wishes of the bird lovers.  Dredging was scaled back.  Pumping stations were left to ruin.

Millions of pounds that could and should have been used to safeguard managed environments through proper flood prevention in places like the Somerset levels, instead were allocated at EU behest to hugely expensive and lavish projects to create new habitats on the levels themselves – such as the hundreds of hectares of the Steart Peninsula being transformed into new saltmarsh and freshwater wetlands to attract species including wading birds and wildfowl, rare water voles and great crested newts at a cost of £20 million, while £3 million required for essential flood maintenance in the same area could not be found.  There is no way the Environment Agency left behind by Barbara Young would fight for such skewed spending priorites to be altered.  These kind of projects were what she always wanted and the EA has been delivering them with relish.

While the RSPB – part of Birdlife International – is in this mess up to its neck it does not prevent it from engaging in the most sickening hypocrisy, as in January when it joined with the Somerset Wildlife Trust (which also seems to prioritise birds over other wildlife) to call on MPs and others to press government and its agencies to develop a water management strategy for a more flood-resilient future on the Somerset Levels that benefits both people and wildlife – while expressing ‘concern’ over calls for the very dredging that has previously prevented such flood destruction in the past.  This was just an earlier instance of this week’s example of those who have brought about the situation in Somerset throwing up one vast smokescreen to conceal their complicity in action which directly led to the flooding disaster and magnified its effects.

But what of the RSPB’s partner in this plot to ethnically cleanse people off the Somerset levels, the WWF?  A trawl of their press centre shows they have not issued one release about the impact of the flooding on the Somerset levels on wildlife.  Rare butterflies, wild flowers, badger, vole, mouse and many other species, some of them rare have been killed by the flooding and had their own habitat polluted.  But from the WWF we hear nothing – bar calls for farmers to allow ‘small floods‘ on their land to prevent wider flooding downstream.  There is no mention of their complicity in or support of the ‘restoration’ of wetlands which led to environmental management decisions that have made this flooding so bad.

Overseas the WWF seems quite happy to rush in and comment on flooding, as they did in Poland in 2010, where they criticised development on floodplains.  But even then their intervention had a familiar ring to it.  Cue a reference to our old friend, Making Space for Water which we referenced in this earlier post.  The WWF made a deeply ironic observation that people in the Somerset levels might take issue with, when they claimed that:

More and more rivers around the world have been seeing projects to restore wetlands as natural wet and dry season reservoirs, with dramatic reductions in flood damage being only one of the benefits.

As for the WWF’s direction of travel, we note that earlier this month the organisation announced the appointment of Dr Marco Lambertini as Director General of WWF International.  This is noteworthy because he is currently the Chief Executive of… Birdlife International, the global partner of the RSPB.  Clearly the wheels within wheels are turning at an international level even outside the governance top table of the EU where such organisations sit as equals alongside representatives of national governments, informing and directing policy agendas in their own interests rather than the people in the European Union, who have no vehicle or method to exert anything like that kind of influence.

It is common to hear people say this country is going to the dogs.  All the evidence that is accumulating so far suggests that is wrong.  Thanks to the power wielded by certain organisations it is clearly going to the birds – helped by those who claim to love animals too.

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Flooding: Putting public inquiries into their proper context

The email, from which the screenshot above was taken, could not have come with better timing.

When ‘managing’ a crisis the professionals resort to whatever tactics are necessary to take the heat off and send the issue into the long grass.  It is commonly accepted in those circles that the best way of giving the impression of action while ensuring nothing of substance happens is to – yes, that’s right – hold a public inquiry!

Having one on the floods will simply let those responsible – who are already taking evasive action – off the hook, after a great deal more money has been wasted on it.

Why Farage’s call for a flooding public inquiry is senseless

Why won’t anyone look at me?

In the previous post we again questioned what could be achieved through a public inquiry into the extent of flooding.  We contend that such an inquiry would be a whitewash waiting to happen.  It just needs an on-message Chairman appointed to move the roller.

We know this because we don’t have to look back far to see the results of the last flooding inquiry, that concering the floods in the summer of 2007, by Sir Michael Pitt.  In the nearly 500 pages his report covers, EU directives are mentioned a mere 13 times, and not even in respect of causation.

The Water Framework Directive is not mentioned at all and the Habitats Directive gets one mention, in a ‘box out’ that explains dredging – in almost entirely negative terms!

The EU is mentioned a number of times, but almost exclusively in terms of funding and claiming money from the Solidarity Fund – which would have the effect of reducing the amount of rebate the UK would have for its EU contributions in the financial year.

Given that concerns about the impact of EU laws on flood protection were already at the fore in 2007, why on earth does anyone believe another inquiry or review into flooding now would produce a different outcome to Pitt?

What is Farage’s game?  He can’t influence the terms of reference, witnesses or the Chairman of an inquiry, so what does he think will be achieved?  The EU elephant will be in the room but everyone standing around it will continue to avert their eyes and pretend it isn’t there.  The eventual outcome will just be held up as vindication of the existing approach and couched in purely domestic terms.

Tallbloke returns! But he still dodges the question

UKIP candidate and occasional commenter on this blog, Tallbloke, returned here today to leave a ‘told you so’ comment on a blog post where we said that Farage’s comments on the floods indicate UKIP has abandoned its anti-EU role, which dates back to 9th February.

The comment he linked to in his latest contribution was this one.  As it would not be spotted by most readers, we felt it only fair to give it a good airing.  Along with the reply that has been left to the comment, which is reproduced below…

——————

Nice to see you back here after chickening out of answering the question here. But now you’re back, don’t be silly, Rog.

Farage has deliberately avoided linking the EU to a number of consequences of Brussels governance over the last year.  His shortsighted call for a public inquiry has seen him change his narrative.  He has now chosen to define this mythical inquiry in terms of abandoning dredging, but did not do so previously as you will see in his quote below.  In fact even your previous comment makes yet a different case for a public inquiry, so it’s not actually what you said at all.  In any case he has been caught on the hop by Clegg, and his refusal to immediately accept the offer of a debate has undermined confidence in him.

For clarity, do tell us, why is an inquiry necessary? Is it to explore dredging, or is it to help resolve UKIP’s internal confusion and lack of knowledge? The previous question asking you just what the UKIP line actually is, still stands for reasons the quotes below make all too clear.

1. ‘Ms Reding’s visit took place at the same time as the consequences of heavy rainfall compounded by the effect of EU regulations, have brought about widespread flooding, suffering and the destruction of property.

‘The evidence is that EU directives put wildlife before people. It is starting to be clear that DEFRA and the Environment Agency have been zealous in implementing EU directives’
William Dartmouth

2. ‘Well it’s not Brussels’ fault is it?’
Lisa Duffy

3. ‘I don’t know the truth of the extent to which the Environment Agency is now bound by European Union rules and laws. I just don’t know. That’s why we need to have a public inquiry.’
Nigel Farage

So which is it? Let’s see if you can answer without re-writing history again.

Just so you know, should an inquiry be held it will be chaired by an on-message appointee, the terms of reference will not address what Farage has belatedly chosen to call for, the witnesses will be chosen so as to minimise any adverse reference to the EU and the findings will not change EU laws one iota. So what exactly does Farage think he will achieve? It’s as meaningless as his call for a civil defence corps.

It is just more badly thought out, scattergun rhetoric as he speaks first then tries to decide what he meant by it later, while people like you interpret in a myriad of different ways and put your own spin on it, irrespective of what was actually said.

——————

We await the reply with interest…

EU-supporting Daily Mail tries to hold the line for Brussels

It’s very interesting to see the EU-supporting Daily Mail has on its online homepage, and several sidebar links, the following headline linking to a story…

But clicking on the link and opening the story reveals this…

The story does not contain even a single mention of the terms ‘European Union’, ‘EU’ or ‘Brussels’.  The EU-supporting Daily Mail has however done its work.  The millions of people who read the site will see the headline and accept it at face value, while only a proportion of them will click through for more detail and find no reference whatsoever to what the headline’s claims.

It seems that despite the silence of the main parties and UKIP about the EU’s involvement in degrading the UK’s flood prevention approach, the grassroots effort to bring the issue to the fore and expose the UK’s inability to control its own floods policy and environmental concerns being given priority over humans, homes and businesses,  has got some in Brussels and the UK media rattled.

Floods: Not one party has been this honest, not even UKIP

It’s heartening to see that even though the politicians and the media are tip-toeing around this issue and dodging mention of the EU as if their lives depended on it, the reality is being shared around outside the establishment.  This below sent in by a valued reader from today’s East Anglian Daily Times.

There’s no need for public inquiries which can be corrupted at inception, we just honesty and recognition of the facts.  Until the media comes clean with the facts that are circulating all around them and the politicians recognise and acknowledge the issue at hand, we are condemned to see repeats of flooding on this scale as the EU laws we are bound by continue to obstruct the work required to manage our land and waterways in a way that preserves life and property in many communities around this country.

Cameron at his disingenuous worst with floods pledge

David Cameron today once again successfully failed to bang on about Europe, as he said Britain has ‘to do better as a country’ to protect itself from future floods, the Telegraph tells us.

No doubt those people of the Somerset Levels who had time to listen in on the radio while trying to cope with flooding, evacuation and the turning upside down of their lives, will have been incredulous when Cameron said that officials are working on a plan to protect the Somerset Levels, although, as he put it, it is still not clear what the best solution for the area would be.

Here’s a radical thought, as a starting point, how about a return to the flood prevention activity that was wound down over the years by the Environment Agency to fit a political agenda created through the EU?  If those who managed to listen in to the pontificating buffoon were not already grinding their teeth in anger, then this may well have done the trick:

Dredging has a part to play.

At the end of the 1990s when the Environment Agency was established, there became rather an anti-dredging culture and some of the expert bodies said it shouldn’t be part of the picture. It has to be part of the picture.

Why won't anyone acknowledge me?

Why won’t anyone acknowledge me?

Unsurprisingly, there was not a single word about why it was suddenly decided that dedging shouldn’t be part of the picture, or the concerted effort by the EU to inflate the price of dredging through waste management laws and restrictions on moving river deposits once on land. Far less any mention by the Telegraph’s Peter Dominiczak, who, like UKIP, passed up the opportunity to add value by providing context and sharing established facts.

There was no mention of Making Space for Water.
There was no mention of the Water Framework Directive.
There was no mention of the Floods Directive.
There wasn’t even any mention of the Natura 2000 strategy.

EU law has been changing the British landscape – literally – aided by environmentalist activists like Baroness Young, who Labour parachuted into positions of power to wreak havoc on the approach to flood prevention, because they shared the EU view of wanting to see reclaimed land, such as the levels, refilled with water to become habitat museums – this despite the fact that flooding the long since established farmland in this way kills the animals living there and results in a putrid, stinking swamp that cannot sustain fowl in any case.

Around the areas that have been flooded there will be some very lonely animals.  But there will be none so lonely, or so deliberately ignored, as the great big EU elephant in the room that the useless UK media and politicans from the four main parties are doing their best to pretend they cannot see and does not exist when it comes to the flooding issue, how it has been allowed to happen and acknowledging who was responsible.

It’s breathtaking incompetence right enough

Nor it seems, have the media.

Here we have Sandbrook, writing in the EU supporting Daily Mail, pontificating about ‘the people who run Britain’, yet not mentioning the EU or how its laws have exacerbated this flooding mess.  Not one word.

The EU is the embarrassing ginger-haired stepchild, never referenced, kept in the background, denied eye contact and shut away from everyone so as to pretend it doesn’t really exist.  Would the media approach be any different if Farage had used two huge platforms to share the reality with people, raising public awareness?  That would be speculation, but at least hundreds of thousands if not millions more people would be aware of the EU’s role as the biggest actor in this tragic play.

If Sandbrook wants to witter on about breathtaking incompetence he should pick up his pen and start by describing what he sees in the mirror.  At least for once he would be accurate.

Even the editor of Country Life gets it, Nigel

It really has come to something when the editor at large of Country Life, despite only a limited summary, is more clued in to the EU dimension of the excessive flooding in the Somerset Levels and more vocal about it than the leader of the UK’s EUsceptic political party.

It is a shame that Mr Aslet, upon identifying the key role played by Baroness Young in preparing the way for this debacle, didn’t go further in ramming this home to Telegraph readers.  But he’s certainly gone further than Nigel Farage, much to the detriment of the EUsceptic movement.

Farage the policy-free zone

Guest post by Richard North

Richard North of the EU Referendum blog, who has done so much to expose the EU’s involvement and responsibility for exacerbating the extent of the flooding in the Somerset Levels, shares his assessment of Nigel Farage’s failure to use recent media opportunities to shine even more light on the EU’s role – and those who are defending this political error:

There is a certain constancy to the “Nigel can do no wrong” brigade. Whatever he does, ex post facto, his little claque will leap to his defence, saying he’s done exactly the right thing.

There is no getting away from the premise here, though, that Farage has scored a massive own goal. The EU dimension of the floods has, on my blog, been the most popular post I have ever written, attracting a massive level of interest. Yet “our Nige” has chosen to play a derivative game, all but ignoring the EU dimension. The sight of an anti-EU party leader ignoring the EU sends its own message.

Further, the populist dimension of the Farage message also sends a message. While there can be no doubt that more money will help in this growing crisis, above all else for the longer term, there is a massive policy deficit. You can throw money at a problem but if the policy framework is not right, the spending will have little effect or even – as we are seeing – a perverse effect.

Thus, it is absolutely essential that the deficiencies in policy are identified and corrected, which provides a magnificent opportunity for a focused and sustained attack on the EU. Farage, however, has walked away from the open goal. UKIP, as always, is out to lunch.

Nigel’s defenders can now blather all they want. But once again, Farage has shown himself to be a policy-free zone, a lightweight who is good for the “man-in-pub” routine but not a serious politician.


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