Cause and Effect
It has not been long since floods last hit the headlines in the UK. Last time it was Cumbria that was hit by torrential rains and swollen rivers as a result of Storm Desmond. Now, less than a month later, Yorkshire and Lancashire have been hit over the Christmas period.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 27, 2015
December saw record breaking figures recorded by Met Office observing stations. Just under a months worth of rain fell in some places in a 24 hour period meaning that already saturated ground was unable to cope. This led to widespread flooding in villages and towns around York, Leeds and Manchester. Police in West Yorkshire stated that it was the worst flooding experienced in 70 years.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) December 27, 2015
In York, the River Ouse was 5.1 metres above normal summer river levels around the Christmas period.
Over 500 soldiers were sent into areas worst affected by flooding as 27 severe flood warnings were in place, meaning “danger to life”. Thousands of homes were left without power in the Greater Manchester area, whilst over 2000 people were evacuated from homes in York and hundreds from properties in Salford as rivers burst their banks.
Many were left hoping that the damage caused to their homes will be covered by their insurance. However, the small print in some policies may leave some with a nasty surprise
The future – reducing the risks?
After the immediate danger had passed and people began the clear-up, many were again asking what can be done to mitigate against such events in the future? There are many examples of flood gates, walls and other methods that have been put in place after previous flood events. Although some of these served to reduce the impacts this time around, many have not and may not do so in the future.
For years, many have called into question the decision to continue allowing permission for new housing to be built on floodplains. A recent Greenpeace investigation claimed that even now, the government has still earmarked flood risk areas for the building of 9000 new homes as part of it’s fast track home building programme.
Furthermore, in a recent article published on the 9th December it is claimed by The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), that in August it warned the government that it needed to take action in relation to the number of homes at risk from future flood events. In October 2015 the government rejected this stating that a “….. strategy to address future residual risk would not be appropriate at this time.”
This interesting article asks: ‘What have we done to make flooding worse?‘
Do we need a Dutch-style delta plan to mitigate against future floods? After the storms and devastating floods that hit the Netherlands in 1953, huge investment has taken place in the country to prevent a future event. The centre piece is the ‘Delta Works Programme’.
However, not everywhere in Yorkshire fell foul of the wet weather. The town of Pickering decided not to adopt yet more hard engineering approaches, but to work with nature rather than against it.
Time for a rethink?
Have we learned our lessons from previous flood events?
Could more be done to prevent devastating floods?
VIDEO – Back-to-nature flood scheme
It has also been suggested after previous floods that ‘careless farming‘ is a factor adding to the flood risk in the UK
Should farmers be obliged to stop potential flooding? Some have suggested that farmers receiving public money should be forced to trap water on their land to reduce the chances of flooding further downstream.