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I think that it might be a little unfair to blame the dredging fiasco on Lord Smith. He only took over the EA recently. The response to the FOI request submitted to the EA via the brilliant Whatdotheyknow website, "Dredging the River Thames above Oxford" indicates that the decision to abandon dredging for flood mitigation happened in 1996 when the EA was handed responsibility for maintaining our rivers. Note in particular the answers to Qs 2, 6 and 7 Adidas Neo Label Male and especially Q2: "The dredging or de silting of the River Thames is now carried out fornavigation purposes on a risk based approach.

So who should carry the can? Chris Smith, as EA chairman, is probably just a grossly overpaid public relations man. It's hard to believe that he was privy to any of the day to day decisions that took place inside the agency. But then again he is placed in the EA to represent the public interest. The fact that he is an enthusiastic environmentalist as well, and would therefore have presumably been happy to see water voles given preference over taxpayers, only adds spice to the story. And besides, there were floods in the Levels last year and Smith was out in public trying to put them down to the "wrong kind of rain".

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The argument that these floods can be pinned to climate change is also looking increasingly thin, particularly after the reminder that just a couple of years ago DEFRA was warning us that drought was the "new normal". The focus of the EA's defence therefore seems to have shifted somewhat to its finances (or the alleged lack of them).

It a good question why these other bodies appear not to be affected by the UK Regulations, to which I do not know the answer. Perhaps they are exempt because they are dealing mainly with man made waterways, or perhaps they are ignoring some part of the Regulations.

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the renewables one and that, when Joe Soap complains, they ignore him too however well informed his complaints.

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The EA is of course the UK government body which helps to draft, and then applies, the UK Regulations which put into effect the EU Floods Directive (and the consequent UK Regulations) It has not (yet) drawn the EU into the debate, perhaps preferring to avoid discussion of its nature friendly practices in the Somerset levels, although it might choose to do so in due course, relying on the "it not me, Guv" defence.

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As a result, a system that seems to have worked pretty well since the Middle Ages (drainage of the Levels was escalated in the time of Charles I but it had been going on for centuries prior) has been overturned in a matter of a few years in an effort to "restore" what essentially disappeared centuries ago.

apologist for the EU but many of its interfering Directives are . . . not intended for the purpose to which the British civil servant chooses to apply them

This seems to me to be strong evidence that the has made things considerably worse than they needed to be.

Richard North political opinions, however strongly he holds them, are irrelevant here but my experience is that his research is a deal more accurate than most when it comes to EU related issues.

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But unlike the southern Levels rivers, the Huntspill is not silted up. The land for miles around is just as low lying as the drowned villages and fields near the Parrett, but the flooding is far less severe.

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There was perhaps an echo of this last month when Lord Smith, chairman of the , incautiously blamed recent flooding on instances of rain, which sits in one place and just dumps itself in a deluge over a long period of time. Not only did this sound to annoyed flood victims and their MPs as an excuse; it drew a sharp rebuke from the veteran weather forecaster Bill Giles, who said is nothing new about convective rain. Perhaps next time he should get a meteorologist to check his answers. all getting very interesting.

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Whatever, the Habitats Directive, which is unarguably central to the Somerset Levels case, is not only mandatory it a Directive, not a set of "Guidelines" but has been more or less correctly transposed into UK law.

Some have been making the claim that dredging would not have prevented the floods on the Levels, but as David Rose pointed out in the Mail on Sunday yesterday, not all of the area is a dredging free zone.

At the Gold Corner pumping station, three giant pumps are still lifting the waters from the rivers Axe and Brue up seven feet into the Huntspill Drain an artificial watercourse about 100ft wide which runs straight to the sea.

The torrent of claim and counterclaim about the floods continues apace. Last night Twitter was abuzz with environmentalists trying to defend Lord Smith, the head of the , while those of a more sceptical bent (myself included) were furiously pointing out some of the flaws in the argument.

We are all aware of the disastrous effect of the EU renewables directives on energy supply and on the environment. What this case reminds me of is that the EU environmental Directives also carry a significant element of risk.

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Adidas Neo Label Male

My experience of wind farm campaigns and of research into wind power EU dimension is that when this or that environmental Directive threatens to restrict the construction of projects on perfectly proper environmental grounds and thereby put at risk the meeting of EU Directive imposed renewables "targets", then envirocrats and Eurocrats alike simply ignore the environmental Directives and plump for Adidas Neo Advantage Core Black

For some insight into the Directive, see:(Other Directives covering allied topics, such as the EIA Directive, were IMHO deliberately improperly transcribed into Scottish law by the leaving of loopholes that permit wind power and similar developments that significantly breach its terms but that another story.)

Bishop Hill blog

It looks as if the argument is going to come down to whether allegations that the EA has splurged money on water voles, corruption and general wastefulness win out over claims that it is underfunded. That being the case, it will be interesting to see if someone can get hold of documentary support for Richard North's story about the absurd costs claimed by the EA for dredging. Given all the stories swirling around at Inside the , I have little doubt that it is true.

The opposite seems to have happened in this case. Eager to meet "targets" imposed by the Habitats Directive, consequences were improperly thought through at least in this instance (that notorious "just add water" quip). Stir into the mix weak political oversight (Smith was re appointed EA chair by Tory Caroline Spillam despite the EA bureaucracy reportedly running amok), the usual bureaucratic hauteur and a bevy of ideologues unhindered by any real conservation skills etc etc etc and something akin to the present fiasco was bound to happen sooner or Adidas Originals Cheap Shoes

later.

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