Blame the Conservatives for the flooding in the UK
First and foremost we should address the cuts to flood defence, as well as multiple other reasons the Conservative party should take a major proportion of the blame, for the misery and suffering of many people who have had their lives ruined by floods.
Since 2011, 1114 flood defence schemes were suddenly left without funding, this was actually raised as a concern by the Environment Agency who stated that 1 in 6 properties were at risk of flooding. The biggest project to lose funding is the £160m scheme for defences along 12 miles of the river Aire and stretched right into the heart of Leeds , worth noting that the flooding round Aire has been the worst since records began.
Climate change is an obvious example of the recent extreme weather changes, although the contributing factors are quite complex. Adam Scaife, The head of Met Office, stated that the effects of El Nino are exacerbated with man-made climate change. El Niño is a phase of what is known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. The ENSO cycle is a scientific term that describes the fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east of the Pacific. This can increase storms in America, flooding in Europe, and drought with increased temperature in Australia. However the power behind these phenomena’s can be exacerbated by man-made climate change, leading to extreme conditions such as the flooding experienced in the North of England.
After the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement, 196 ministers committed their represented countries to limit their emissions to relatively safe levels, to achieve a worldwide temperature drop of 2C with an aspiration of 1.5C. Now to be fair to the Conservatives and David Cameron in particular, who made a rousing speech decrying “the Earth is in peril”, the UK led the way on the negotiations. This however was just a superficial move by the Tories, who have since brought in a number of un-environmental policies such as:
- Allowing fracking in national parks
- Scrapping support for onshore wind
- Solar subsidies axed
- Killing green home schemes
- Selling the Green investment bank
- Axing Tidal power
Now whilst adopting green policies wouldn’t change the flood issue at this present moment, the combination of cuts to flood defences as well as environmentally sustainable initiatives, show the incredible incompetence of the Conservatives to provide appropriate flood defence in the short-term, and tackling the root causes of flooding in the long-term.
Lastly we have to look at the internal draining boards prioritized to protect farmlands, over the safety of towns and cities downstream, which in particular have exposed thousands of residents in local areas to flooding. This combined with the burning of grouse moors, has significantly affected the amount of rain water that can be held in the area, draining at a faster rate downstream into urban areas; the reason why these moors are burned is to encourage a different habitat (the growth of heather) which wealthy land-owners use as effective nesting grounds for grouse. Before the man-made change in habitat, these areas naturally soaked up water, stored rich carbon, and increased bio-diversity. There’s one problem though, these landowners make a considerable amount of money from the shooting season, making £2500 – £5000 for a brace of grouse. However, the worst part to all this, is it’s actually subsidised by the Conservative government, who pay these wealthy landowners – the top 1% of the richest in the country – £56 per hectare; the owner of Walshaw Moor (Richard Bannister, a wealthy retail mogul) was paid 2.5 million pounds to continue dredging the area and burning moorland, this directly contributed to the flooding of 11,000 people in the Hebden Bridge area.
To summarise, the Conservatives contributed to the demise of natural flood defences, whilst cutting artificial flood defences, and making no commitment to tackle the intensifying problems with climate change. This has brought untold misery to victims of flooding, who have lost their homes, businesses and livelihoods; but given that the Tories are more concerned with money and public spending, we should also remind them to take a hard look at the fact this will cost the tax payer 5.8 billion in damages.