Dr Alf poses an interesting question, the answer to which is “yes”.
Various papers on so-called “managed retreat” have been put forward by successive Governments who only a few years ago wanted to punch holes in North Sea and East Anglian flood defenses, allow water to come in and destroy farmland.
Global Warming/Climate Change has been put forward as the reason for the storms and the
Government pretends it lacks the money whilst applying the £8 gbp’s worth of economic benefit test to every £1 spent by the Environment Agency on flood defense.
To begin with when Jeremy Paxman interviewed Lord Smith, the CEO of the Environment Agency he was obsequious and grovelling. He did not ask the useless Smith how the Treasury test that supposedly “tied his hands ” was worked out.
After these floods, we know as surely as tomorrow;s sun will rise that:
–Insurance premiums for homes and businesses will rise
–Food prices will go up thus reducing disposable income
–Overseas inward investors will look with incredulity at the lack of resilience to inclement weather, our inability to protect infrastructure, our lack of storm drains and the taxes we pay.
Then they will look at Holland, Germany, America, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Finland etc and conclude that these countries seem to be able to organize themselves better and represent a better bet for their investments and as places to do business.
Going on television and saying your staff are doing a great job, whilst houses adjacent to a country’s capital city are being turned into an inland sea, is not going to convince hard-headed inward investors to put money into this country, no matter how much people like David Cameron say “Britain is open for business”.
The poor PR alone in my view creates an economic dys-benefit which outweighs the so-called Treasury test by a significant margin.
The Government claims that it lacked the £4 million gbp a year to dredge the Somerset levels, yet £600 million gbp has been sent to Syria, whilst we are spending even more money on training Syrian rebels in Turkey and Jordan using our special forces.
The bigger question is what is being done with our taxes?
We are 17th in the world in terms of value per taxpayer pound and yet the infrastructure in the way of roads, bridges, high-speed bullet trains, storm drainage, flood defenses, airports, hospitals and schools simply is not in evidence on the scale it should be given our rising population.
At my most charitable, I attribute this to incompetence, too many local authorities and
and too many civil servants.
This does not explain where all the money has gone and why no attempt is being made to forensically investigate why it is that other countries seem to be able to protect themselves against snow, ice, floods, storms and build infrastructure and deliver economic growth.
Mark Harper, the silly immigration minister, is a distraction to these questions and to the question of what of value might lie underneath the Somerset levels.