GLENRIDDING-FLOODS_3522632bYes, it’s Cumbria, we’re used to rain, but there are limits. So with the flooding, what’s happened?
Well of course, if you want anything done, send in the army (and the other emergency services.)

I saw one digger driver interviewed. Sick of being made to sit in their diggers because it was too dangerous, they waited for petty officialdom to knock off for the day before starting up the diggers and getting the job done.

I was talking to one chap who crept along flooded roads, and across the bridge, only to find his way off the bridge blocked by a local government employee engaged in closing the bridge, because the bridge was unsafe. Because the road was already ‘blocked’ the jobsworth wouldn’t open it up to let him through, instead he forced him to reverse back across the bridge that was so unsafe they were closing the road, and take his chance once more with the flooding on the other side.

It doesn’t matter how bad things get, there are folk whose presence you know will somehow ensure things get worse.

Yet as usual in Cumbria, folk rallied round and got stuck in. What decent folk could do to help their neighbours, decent folk did. And other decent folk came up to help from all over the place, people of all creeds and backgrounds and from all sorts of different places and it was good to have them.

But what are we going to do about it?

Let’s be brutally frank about it. A lot of building has been done in areas that were prone to flooding. Because of this building, the rivers have been more hemmed in, and thus they’re more prone to flooding that people notice. They always did flood, but the land owner knew to move cattle out of the field in wet weather, the hint is in the term ‘flood plain.’ The climate is changing (this isn’t an ideological point; the climate is always changing, always has changed and always will changed. It’s entirely possible that in the natural cycle of these things, in half a millennia Cumbria will get a lot drier again, but let’s worry about our life times.)

So what are we going to do? Well at the moment a lot of houses are only insured because government did a deal with insurance companies so that the rest of us cross-subsidise them. Getting insurance for commercial building could be more tricky.

Now there’s talk of using land upstream for sacrifice flooding. Firstly I’ve heard talk but seen no really convincing plans which show exactly how it’ll work. There’s talk of planting more trees to reduce run-off. There might be enthusiasm for planting more trees along the side of  Thirlmere to stop the fellside sliding into the road as well. But this is all National Park; best of luck in getting anything done quickly. It’s difficult enough to get permission to dredge rivers properly in Cumbria, doing that would probably be a good start.

So let’s be sensible. Rather that trying to shift the blame and the cost upstream onto those who haven’t made a penny out of rates and rents on buildings erected on the flood plain, how about being sensible. Any non-residential area that has flooded in the last two floods, just demolish it, get rid of the concrete, turn it back to grass. Plant it was willow if you want, make it a park, but let it flood. See what happens. Does that reduce the flooding into housing? If it does, great, but if, with this done and the rivers cleaned out properly, we have housing estates that are still flooding, then I think we’re going to have to look at compensating the owners, demolishing them and rebuilding somewhere more sensible.

When we have events that aren’t supposed to happen twice in several centuries happening twice in a decade, it’s probably time to stop fannying about.

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16 thoughts on “Flooding

  1. willmacmillanjones December 16, 2015 at 2:50 pm Reply

    Follow the money, Jim. Until it is someone’s financial interest to do something, nothing will happen.

    • jwebster2 December 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm Reply

      Absolutely right. In some parts it’s been the local authority that has been landowner, judge and jury for the planning decision, and main financial beneficiary. In other parts they’ve had such a free hit out of 106 agreements and subsequent rates that they’ve virtually been partners in the deal. Cumbria is complicated because so much in National Park as well.
      This complicates things because the Environment Agency has had a pathological aversion to dredging rivers combined with EU regulations meaning it was virtually impossible to remove the stuff that was dredged out, so it got washed straight back in by the rain.

  2. The Story Reading Ape December 16, 2015 at 8:52 pm Reply

    Will hit the nail squarely Jim and, of course, NO-ONE is EVER going to admit that THEIR actions or ideas were ever at fault.
    Regards Jobsworths and H&S nowadays – #€*$¥@&…

    • jwebster2 December 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm Reply

      Well I suppose if I never admit anything, I can hardly expect the others to 😉

  3. The Story Reading Ape December 16, 2015 at 9:01 pm Reply

    BTW – Are YOU affected by all this flooding Jim?

    • jwebster2 December 16, 2015 at 10:25 pm Reply

      We’re lucky. Furness in south Cumbria has short rivers and we runoff into the sea pretty damned quick. Also our farm was put there over four hundred years ago, by people other than local authority planning officers, so they thought about flooding and avoided it 🙂
      Our area was cut off for over a day because the roads had all flooded. But they opened them before it got to be a serious problem

      • The Story Reading Ape December 17, 2015 at 7:09 am

        Glad to hear it Jim 😃

      • jwebster2 December 17, 2015 at 7:49 am

        earlier this year when we had gales and very high tides it was a bit wild, and at one point we thought our main road was going to be washed away, but we got through it 🙂

      • The Story Reading Ape December 17, 2015 at 7:51 am

        You’re near the coast then?

      • jwebster2 December 17, 2015 at 8:10 am

        I can set off walking West, East or South and be standing in salt water within half an hour at the most 🙂

        Furness in a peninsular, we’ve got Morecambe Bay on one side and the Irish Sea on the other. This means we get sun rises as the sun covers up over the mountains and the sea, and sunsets as it goes down over the sea 🙂
        It also means that when I’m out checking sheep, I can normally see hills that are over forty miles away. On a really clear day we can see Snowdonia in North Wales (That isn’t every year)

      • The Story Reading Ape December 17, 2015 at 9:34 am

        Perfect views and location – pity you need to work while enjoying them Jim 😀

      • jwebster2 December 17, 2015 at 10:12 am

        True enough. Unfortunately the world isn’t willing to support an indigent author to a standard to which he wishes to become accustomed

      • The Story Reading Ape December 17, 2015 at 10:12 am


  4. Kate McClelland January 1, 2016 at 5:37 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Kate McClelland.

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