Letters: Floods: Why shouldn’t house-builders be held accountable?

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When we see the dramatic consequences of the recent, incessant rainfall in other parts of the country perhaps we should count our blessings for living in such a pleasant area.

Clearly those properties built on flood plains will be at greatest risk.

But this should surprise no-one because flood plains have existed for thousands of years - caused by excessive rainfall, time after time, breaking river banks and leaving massive quantities of silt, clay, sand and gravel when the waters receded.

In this country since 2001 more than 208,000 homes were built on flood plains and more than 38,000 were constructed in serious flood risk areas with the approval of local and national government.

It is obvious that it is much more economically attractive for developers to build on virgin flat land than on other available sites, but it is extremely worrying to hear that developers have been lobbying government to allow councils to charge new home-owners for the cost of flood prevention measures.

If planning permission is given by a council on totally inappropriate sites, we may wonder why, in logic and fairness, the council and the developer (both paid handsomely by the home-owners) should not accept responsibility for any future problems.

Sadly, it appears that logic and fairness seem not to apply to many official planning decisions.

BRIAN BRUCE

Bourne Road,

Colsterworth

The East Midlands Green Party reacted with understandable dismay at the announcement of yet more cuts to the Environment Department’s budget.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) budget has been cut by £500m since 2010 to just under £2.5bn, and further cuts of £300m
by 2016 have been demanded by Chancellor George Osborne.

Reacting to news of the cuts and the threat of big staff redundancies at the Environment Agency, Katharina Boettge, the Greens lead Euro-candidate in the East Midlands said, “Osborne is gambling with our future safety just to enable him to meet his self imposed financial targets in time for the next election.

“The Environment Agency does vital work in flood protection, pollution control and waste management, reducing the impact of development on our environment and planning for the impacts of Climate Change. To plan to cut the staff of this Agency at a time when their work load is increasing is irresponsible.’

MPs have expressed fears that the planned staffing cut of 1,500 jobs would weaken the agency’s ability to respond to events like the storms of the last month. There is also the concern that the reduced budget will not keep pace with the need to maintain existing defences as well as build new ones.

Ms Boettge also questioned the Government’s own claims that Defra is spending £2.3bn on flood protection.

“With a total budget of £2.5bn, set to be cut to £2.2bn, and with a string of other essential responsibilities, I fail to see how the Government is going to be able to respond to the growing challenge from our increasingly unstable climate and eroding coastline.’

Acknowledging the seriousness of the economic situation created by the failure of the banking system, Ms Boettge called on the Government to reassess its spending priorities.

“The £1bn a year being spent at the Aldermaston Nuclear Weapons Establishment to upgrade for the Trident programme can be and should be diverted to protect us from the real and present danger posed by flooding and coastal erosion.

“Once again we are leaving a fearful legacy for our children to sort out because of short term, blinkered policy.”

This is not just a national issue, despite the horrendous flooding we have all seen on our TV screens over the festive period.

You only have to take a walk along the River Welland in our village of Barrowden to see. The weir is so overwhelmed, the fields have flooded extensively affecting the local farming community in a major way – their crops will struggle to survive this.

Julie Park

Parish councillor, 
Main Street, Barrowden