LibLink: Tim Farron: Help needed for floods recovery and prevention

Tim Farron has been writing in the Westmorland Gazette about what needs to be done in the short and long term to repair the damage from December’s floods and take action to prevent them in the future.

He talks about the need to repair vital infrastructure quickly:

In the short-term, there is an urgent need to restore damaged infrastructure, while in the longer term we must look at comprehensive, whole-systems approaches to flood prevention. For far too long, the government has sought to make short-term savings at the expense of long-term investment which would have helped to provide protection from the floods.

The single biggest infrastructure challenge we face is the continued closure of the A591. Although the government has finally committed to undertake in full the required repairs, this crucial route connecting the north and south of the Lake District is due to remain closed until the end of May. Local business people expect thatthis could cost the local economy up to £100million. If this happens, businesses that rely on the tourist trade will go under, and with them the jobs they supported. I am urgently pushing for a solution that will provide relief for local businesses.

In the longer term, there’s a need for a holistic approach to tackle flooding:

In the longer-term, however, a holistic approach must be taken to minimise the threat of future flooding. This would cover measures such as flood defences, but also include plans for dredging, watercourse maintenance, and upland land management.

The government has been short-sighted in cutting funding for flood defences, meaning schemes such as one for the River Kent, first due to be started in 2011, were never implemented. This project, and others like it, would have reduced the impact of flooding and thereby not only saved money but reduced human misery; these schemes must go ahead.

You can read the whole article here.

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9 Comments

  • The A591 is an essential road and needs to be opened much sooner than May. Every time the Rest and Be Thankful or the Strathcarron road are blocked Transport Scotland moves very fast to sort it. They need to get temporary route in place even if it means using temporary military style units.

  • As a piece by a constituency MP this is a fine piece of work. As a party leader there is nothing coming forward from Tim or the party in terms of any meaningful campagn (and the EU soiidarity fund stuff is such an obvious campaign). With his constituency background Tim could have positioned himself as “the floods guy” but he’s missed that window

    Either Tim doesn’t know how to campaign as leader the way he does as a constituency MP or someone/thing in the party is stopping this happening.

    Tim’s leadership so far has largely been a succession of watching the pitches go by – something the party can ill afford given its

  • Jenny Barnes 24th Jan '16 - 3:26pm

    Introduce beavers. They are good at slowing down river flow.

  • @ Hywell

    Give the man a chance. Early days yet……. and it’s clear the media have a vested interest in belittling him. I’ve lost count of how many times UKIP people feature on the BBC…. do we monitor such things. When Mandelson was running PR for New Labour he was a rottweiler forever in the faces of the media and individual producers of the BBC. Time we had a (less unpleasant) rottweiler.

  • Tony Greaves 24th Jan '16 - 3:44pm

    “Whole systems management” is essential and people are beginning to realise this. But you also have to make choices. Whole river dredging is certainly not the answer. The way to protect towns is to reduce the size of flood surges by quite different work upstream (and in residential areas), and then then to build protections in the built-up areas and get the water through them as quickly as possible. And to spend what is needed on maintenance and clearance all the time.

    Tony Greaves

  • Stephen Booth 25th Jan '16 - 8:45am

    Just asking again if anyone can give the background to something party president Sal Brinton said recently, that the government declined to apply for 250m euros of emergency funding from the EU that was available from a special fund for member states faced with sudden disasters. Why didn’t Cameron apply?

  • He’s has 6 months. It’s not that we’ve had a massive improvement in fortunes its that there is nothing happening by the party to do, well, anything. I have no idea what is going on but the party is slowly dying with the FE, leadership and senior staff fiiddle about with governance and changing people’s job titles. Tim said he was the person to be a leader for tough times – and I thought he would be. But he’s been nearly silent and seemingly devoid of any plan to take things forward. That may not be his fault – senior party officers are pretty complicit in what is going on and it is time for FE members to be seriously held to account for allowing that to happen. But for whatever reason Tim’s constiuency based campaigning abilities aren’t translating through to the national party.

    Of course the media will belittle him (though actually they aren’t they are ignoring him and us) – but that was wholly predictable 6 months ago.

  • Tim is running a campaign about European Solidarity Funding – you can sign his petition here:
    http://www.timfarron.co.uk/eufunding

    He has also asked ministers about this a number of times in parliament.

  • Regarding “Whole systems management is essential and people are beginning to realise this. But you also have to make choices.” Tony Greaves is right but more needs to be said.

    TG is right to say “whole river dredging is certainly not the answer” but ensuring that a river basin has a suitably sized and maintained outlet (e.g. by targeted dredging) is nearly always essential. TG is absolutely right to say “The way to protect towns is to reduce the size of flood surges by quite different work upstream (and in residential areas)” but much more needs to be said, e.g. about ‘incentivising’ farmers to do contour ploughing, whereby they follow the contours of a field rather than just ploughing in the direction that is easiest and/or quickest. With the latest tractor based navigation systems for optimising ploughing it may necessitate a few tweaks to the technology, if indeed it doesn’t already exist.

    Three more relevant thoughts based on previously well-established UK water sector approaches are:
    – Think first about attenuating (holding back) all flows as high upstream as practicable and only consider downstream alternatives if essential; this approach is nearly always much more cost effective than downstream capital intensive solutions.
    – Use ‘integrated risk based river basin management methods’ (all aspects exist in one or more arms of the UK water sector) and sort out the politics and funding accordingly (the ‘elephant in the room’).
    – Think ‘levels of service’ (e.g. frequency of flooding) ways of measuring performance and not expenditure based measures; these approaches are well established in the UK water sector.

    Finally, there are some excellent people in the media who sufficiently understand the problems and issues and communicate accordingly. However, the vast majority of the media (and hence the public) are nowhere near aware enough of the issues and the UK’s ability to get on top of flooding related problems. The real problems are political and priority funding based and they will only get worse if we continue down the UK’s current Con Government path! Dramatically more needs to be spent. Come on Lib Dems – take a lead!

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