Greens call for urgent attention to flood prevention measures that address underlying causes

31 January 2016

The Green Party believes that the measures being taken to mitigate flooding are totally inadequate when it comes to avoiding a repetition of the catastrophic damage that has recently been experienced in Cumbria and Yorkshire.

WaterfallAt Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron responded to a question about flood control with promises to carry out dredging and flood control in flooded areas.  This shows that he has not understood, or is perhaps not even aware of, any of the wealth of documentation from previous flooding or the evidence from recent efforts in the Stroud valley [1] and the North York Moors [2], or the earlier, ongoing work at Pontbren [3] in Shrewsbury’s own Upper Severn catchment area. These demonstrate the simple, practical measures that can dramatically slow down the rate of water run-off from uplands – by as much as 40 per cent at peak times [4] - and so alleviate subsequent downstream impacts.

The recent changes in climate and weather systems call for a major reappraisal of our current management of upland areas: we must reassess all the historical and current evidence and resolve to engage local people in arriving at appropriate strategies and practices for more sustainable management of water and land at catchment scale.

Dr David Gibbon, spokesperson on Food, Farming & Environmental Matters for South Shropshire Green Party, said: “The Green Party is very disappointed to see that the leader of the Conservative Party has still not understood the gravity of the situation in which his Government’s response to the present stormy weather and flooding events fails to address the fundamental causes, which include insufficient tree cover, lack of stream-slowing measures, the maintenance of excessive numbers of livestock in many upper watershed areas and inappropriate management of downstream areas. Recent initiatives by partnerships between local councils, environmental agencies, farmers and foresters – for example in the Stroud and Pickering catchments – show that effective measures can be developed at low cost to effect a significant reduction in water run-off from upland areas.”