As we watch yet another summer downpour, pressure is building up on the government to increase spending on flood defences. It is fast becoming an issue it cannot ignore.
The scientific and political debates about the causes, effects and future pattern of climate change will rage for generations to come but anyone who looks up at the skys and casts their mind back 10 or 20 years knows the stark reality: our climate has changed. When your home or business has been flooded out you aren't interested in the big picture debate: you just want to know how to stop it happening again.
We know we can't influence the weather directly, we also know that whatever contribution we might make to reducing carbon emissions is likely to benefit a future generation and have a negligable immediate effect. This means it comes down to protecting ourselves and our communities against the consequences of changing weather patterns and rising sea levels. Which is where flood defences come in and which is why the pressure from the Association of British Insurers and major insurance groups like Royal and Sun Alliance is intensifying. They need all the support they can get. Anyone in an area affected by flooding should be lobbying their local council, MP and the government for real action on this. The ABI's paper on climate change is focussed and practical and provides a sound background for anyone taking up these issues.
We know that flood defences are not cheap but they do work as they found out in Boscastle this week where a second disaster was averted because of a new defence system.
We also need to government to come to its senses and stop pursuing massive house building schemes on flood plains of which the proposed Thames Gateway development is the largest and most misguided. If this goes ahead future generations will curse us when they are faced with the awful dilemma of how to deal with a major tidal surge up the Thames estuary. Will they raise the (by then much enlarged) Thames flood barrier to protect central London knowing that this will inundate the Thames Gateway new town built on the Thames flood plain? You and I know what the answer will be and it won't be good news for those seduced into setting up home in Thames Gateway.
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