FLOODS: Time to buy a boat or move to higher ground

Have your say

Could you ask John Hayes why he plainly believes the environment agency’s flood map is erroneous?

The Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) are responsible for the drainage of the land. The local IDB board members are mainly local farmers, who farm the land and have for generations ensured the drainage system works. For tidal and sea flooding the Environmental Agency (EA) is responsible. The risk of flooding locally can be either tidal/sea or land drainage systems.

The EA maps reflect this. An example is Fosdyke where there is a high tidal surge risk. Tidal water levels above 5.33 metres pose a flood risk. In October 2010 the level was 5.55 metres. The risk of sea flooding is also mapped. The Wash Management Plan allows for managed retreat.That is flooding of farmland and properties between the sea banks. Most of this land is farmed by members of the local IDB! The management plan is based upon predictions. If the sea rises at a faster rate than predicted then flooding will occur. I see no sign of the other option of raising the sea bank or of moves to manage the retreat by raising the old sea banks. Despite accretion of silt in the wash presently keeping up with rising sea levels this could easily change.

As can be seen from recent weather, change can be much more rapid than current plans allow for. So what we need is the local MP to be aware of where he lives and be aware of the current local issues regarding flooding.

So that in the event of signs of significant changes particularly regarding tidal and sea levels, he can ensure the correct decision planning is currently up to date and the necessary spending on the wash defences is available should sea/tidal flooding risk increase.

What we do not need is an MP in wellies explaining to local IDB member farmers/householders that all necessary money will be made available to help people and business.

Managed PR exercises, such as we are”spending x y z”,and “will ensure this that and the other” are of little value when the prediction/planning/maintenance fails because the risks have been underestimated.

The work of the local IDB is plain for everyone to see. It works very well. The Wash Plan is a no-regret approach in the face of very uncertain future developments. It has “big decisions” affecting all who live in this low lying area including the small areas of fenland soils further inland. Whether to sustain the activity level, increase the activity level to sustain existing level of risk.

If he continues to believe flood protection is in the hands of the IDBs and that he lives in the Fens then it is time to buy a boat or move to higher ground.

Michael Harrison

via email