The chairman of the Environment Agency resigns

Sir Phillip Dilley, chairman of the Environment Agency has resigned – see full details HERE.

Thames BarrierIt seemed to me to be the most likely result from his absence while remaining on holiday during the floods in England prior to Christmas. Here’s part of his stated reasons of resigning,

My reason for resigning is that the expectations of the role have expanded to require the Chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year, irrespective of routine arrangements for deputy and executive cover. In my view this is inappropriate in a part-time non-executive position, and this is something I am unable to deliver.

Furthermore the media scrutiny focused on me is diverting attention from the real issue of helping those whose homes and businesses have flooded, as well as the important matter of delivering a long-term flood defence strategy. This same media attention has also affected and intruded on my immediate family, which I find unacceptable.

Is it possible that one new condition will be added to the job specification – ‘Absence from duty while on agreed holiday is overridden when crises arise, such as floods or similar, then expected to end holiday immediately.’

Who’s had a good flood, and who a bad flood

Draining flooded drivewayI don’t mean this in an unkind way, as all floods are bad. Those people whose homes and businesses are flooded generally seek to organisations to blame as a focus of their anger. I know, as I’ve witnessed it.

Some individuals and organisations have has a ‘good’ flood, while others have had a ‘bad’ flood. Here’s my list, by no means exhaustive, and only from watching mainstream media,

  • Rory Stewart MP, government floods minister. Faced questions from the media and residents throughout the day of the floods in Cumbria. See more in the Daily Mail, and website HERE.
    • Very good flood: visible, knowledgeable, and does help, of course, to be the local MP in an area of extreme flood events which adds a bit passion.
  • Lt Col Hamish Cormack, CO of 2 Lancs – The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
    • In his Facebook message HERE, saying, “After 4 weeks of back-to-back support to flooding operations across the North of England the Bn is now back to being on standby to support whatever comes next. We have been at the forefront of the response to these unprecedented events, bouncing across the country to meet the next challenge. It has been an incredible experience; operating in the dirt and destruction of the flooding has been exhausting and often challenging but the way our people have approached it has been nothing short of amazing…..” 
    • Very good flood: visible, energetic, with terrific support from his battalion.
  • Sir Philip Dilley, chairman of the Environment Agency. Chose to remain on a family holiday in Barbados while the Agency struggled to manage to flood situation.
    • Very bad flood: Important to be seen, and to meet agency staff at each of the flooded areas.
  • Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, government cabinet minister for the environment. Faced questioning from the media and locals in York and Tadcaster.
    • Good Flood: As cabinet minister responsible a tough call to face locals whose homes and businesses flooded. Depends on your point of view as to whether she’s had a good or an OK flood. Has promised the replacement of Tadcaster Bridge as a national priority.
  • Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn, left visiting flooded areas for 5 days, and footwear not suitable for visiting flooded areas.
    • Bad Flood: A difficult role to be critical of government, yet supportive of volunteers. Tough call to visit or stay away – better to visit early in my opinion.
  • Pickering, a town in North Yorkshire in a deep valley has avoided flooding through careful and sensible flood mitigation.
    • Very Good Flood: to have avoided the floods.

Flood Risk Management presentation from the Environment Agency

The second presentation at this week’s Council External Partnerships Select Committee meeting was from the Environment Agency. Their presentation, from Ian Tomes, Flood and Coastal Risk Manager – West Thames, was on Flood Risk Management.

Ian Tomes said part of the Environment Agency’s responsibilities were the strategic overview of all forms of flood risk, development of a national strategy, and fluvial flood risk management from main rivers.

Reader’ will know of my keen interest in flood alleviation. I’ve been writing about it here for years, clicking on Flooding in categories to see all the previous posts.

Ian Tomes is responsible for flood risk in the West Thames area, a large area, as can be seen in this report on Groundwater Situation at May 2014. It’s pleasing that the Environment Agency’s [EA] management attend Scrutiny committee meetings, and I was especially pleased at his detailed knowledge of past flooding events in Lightwater and Surrey Heath, especially the Lightwater thunderstorm flood of 2006.

I enjoyed pressing Ian on access to historical flood data held by the Agency, and am also pleased at the EA’s financial support for flood assessment work in Surrey Heath. Continue reading

Pictures that tell the story about lack of dredging

The Daily Mail’s article contains two revealing images about how lack of dredging of the River Parrett contributed the flooding of the Somerset levels.

They are an image of the River Parrett in 1960 at Burrowbridge, and a recent[2013] photo. If ever pictures prove a point, then this must surely be it [click to enlarge photos]

River Parrett at Burrowbridge in 1960s River Parrett at Burrowbridge in recent times

Michael Gove pressures the Environment Agency

Truly excellent work from our MP, Michael Gove, who continues to exert pressure on the Environment Agency to ensure Surrey Heath’s needs are not overlooked. Press reports in the Camberley News on Friday 9th November state:

“In a statement to Mr Gove, the [Environment] agency said that after a successful pilot scheme on the River Crondall its hydrometry team was looking at the merits of direct dial alarms on the Lightwater Stream and Windle Brook.”

The article reported further on works the agency will carry out to improve the flow of rivers,

“[The Environment Agency] will clear the Windle Brook in Bagshot from the A30 to the A322 to rid it of debris and obstructions, and trim weeds. A tree at risk of failing into the Lightwater Stream will be removed as part of channel clearance work from Guilford Road to the A322.”

They report Michael Gove saying,

“I will continue to press for action in specific areas on behalf of the many residents who are not covered by the plans.”

UPDATE: I can report that I’ve seen the Environment Agency work team clearing the debris from Windle Brook in Bagshot near the bridge in Bridge Road.