Worst series of
winter storms in 20 years!
MERSEYSIDE has so far
weathered quite well in what has been billed as:- "The worst
series of winter storms in 20 years". As a nation we are
vulnerable to storm damage as the floods of 1947, 1987, 2000, 2001,
and 2002 and recent floods and storms clearly shows, so it should be
no surprise to us when bad weather happens. Over the week of 2013
and the start of 2014, many parts of the UK have been battered
almost consistently by high winds and rain. Many areas have also
been flooded, particularly in Southern England, thanks to
combination of unusually high tides in coastal areas and the severe
storms that have come in from the Atlantic. The long term damage of
the severe weather that has hit the Merseyside Coastline has yet to
be assessed fully, but so far observations by locals have shown that
areas like Formby have seen around 2 to 3 years of erosion take
place in just a few days alone. This is quite worrying and weather
experts have said the extent of the damage caused by the storms
lashing Britain in recent weeks will have major impact on insurance
premiums in 2014. The latest flooding crisis has once again also
highlighted environmental, social, political and financial issues in
protecting against weather related events like this, as well as the
direct physical damage caused.
On the 3 January 2014, the Country
Land and Business Association, better known as the
CLA according to the CLA, which
represents 6,500 farmers and landowners throughout the region
alleged that the agency has placed too much emphasis on the
website as the primary tool of
communication with those most at risk. CLA North Director of Policy
and Public Affairs Douglas Chalmers said:- "The Environment
Agency has been attempting to communicate via the media but when
asked how people can access the latest information and advice, the
standard response seems to be to check online. That is fine, if you
have a good, reliable internet connection, but many of our members
either cannot access broadband nor do they have any computer access.
And as flooding is often associated with power cuts, what is the
population to do then? The Government says it accepts that some of
our more remote communities are not yet connected to a useable
broadband service yet many of its agencies seem to think that
communicating mainly by their website is acceptable." The CLA are
now is calling for the Government to reconsider its "digital by
default" agenda until more of the region's rural population is able
to access reliable, affordable and faster internet connections. Mr
Chalmers added:- "Being required to fill in forms via an agent if
you have no broadband is bad enough but, in the current situation,
lives and properties may be at risk. The Government cannot make
electronic communication its default method until everyone has an
equal opportunity to access the internet. The UK Government is too
reliant on e-communication at this point in time!"
One of the biggest issues being raised in the media is that of the
proposed 10% cut in Environment Agency jobs. On 2 January 2014 a
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesman
said:- "We're currently spending over £2.3 billion on tackling
the risk of flooding and coastal erosion. Together with
contributions from other partners, this is more money than ever
before. We'll also be making record levels of capital investment and
will be spending over £400 million by 2020/21. In addition we have
provided the Environment Agency with an above inflation increase of
£5 million on their floods maintenance work in 2015/16. Departments
and agencies across government have to make choices about their
budgets and the Environment Agency is making their own choices about
how best to use their resources."
Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer rebutting this, said:-
"Since November 2013, the UK has been battered by storms and EA
staffs are working flat out to protect citizens across the nation.
Government is correct to say about investment in capital monies to
build new flood defences, but what is carefully avoided is the
massive cuts being made to revenue budgets Revenue monies is what is
used for maintaining existing defences which is just as important as
building new ones. If we don't, it's like having a new car and never
getting it serviced; it will soon fail. For one area in the EA the
proposed revenue budget is down to 10% of last year's budget; a 90%
cut. This will mean a lack of maintenance not only to flood defence
assets which control flood waters, but little maintenance to the
rivers themselves which are the main conveyors of flood water. These
cuts to revenue budgets have led to the stark proposals of cutting
manpower as the zero option to the cuts. The manpower that visits
trash grilles to keep them clear to ensure free flows, the manpower
that will lift out trees that block the river, the manpower that
fills sandbags, and acts as the liaison to the public that are
directly affected by flood waters The Agency wants more staff to go
onto standby and work in Incident Room but cutting numbers is a
contradiction to this. Currently staffs in Incident Rooms are
flailing and staffs from other areas are being asked to cross
subsidize, but with this movement of staff it leaves their own area
susceptible to any heavy rainfall and flooding. At present, the
agency is struggling to cope with the flooding at present and this
is prior to the cuts!"
So have you been affected by the storms and what do you think the
enduring consequences are for the UK? Do you think that the
Environment Agency has done a good job of issuing alerts this time?
Also will the proposed 10% cuts to the Environment Agency have a
detrimental effect on the lives of millions of people in England?
Please do email us your thoughts on this issue to:-
The photographs on here of the high tides taken over the last week
in Crosby, Formby and in Southport.
We hope you liked the photos, but
please, don't copy them.
help us to keep our copyright intact and to keep this site online.
On an oddly related note, also
over 7 January to 9 January 2014, more than 300 scientists are
meeting at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London to
discuss how climates and environments have changed over the last 2.6
million years, as well as how they might change in the future.
The meets are focusing on the Quaternary period, which began 2.6
million years ago and is ongoing. The Quaternary period is also
known as the 'Ice Age'; defined as a relatively cooler
period in the Earth's history; that we are now living through.
This year's meeting marks the 50th
anniversary of the QRA and is themed:- 'Revolutions in
Reviewing scientific progress so
far, delegates are discussing:- Causes of climate change; Measuring
and modelling climates; Sea level change; Human origins and
genetics; Human impacts on environments and climates and past
Professor Dan Charman, who chairs
the meeting, says:- "The UK is at the forefront of this area
of science. We have come a long way over the past 50 years and can
contribute much to environmental challenges in the future."
Dr Catherine Souch, RGS-IBG Head
of Research and Higher Education, added:- "We are delighted to
have hosted this event and celebrated the achievements of Quaternary
science and this area of geography."