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HomeNewsFlood defences breached – on the EU’s orders

Flood defences breached – on the EU’s orders


WITH Britain blighted by recent flooding, the Express reports: ‘EU directives on “habitats”, “birds”, “water” and “floods” have dominated the UK’s river management strategy for nearly 20 years. The Government’s hands have been tied by a vast list of European Union directives, critics say. The Environment Agency must obey strict rules set in the EU Water Framework Directive to protect wildlife and plants when implementing its dredging strategy.

‘Work dredging the country’s waterways has been significantly scaled back because of the huge costs of disposing of silt under the EU Waste Framework directive. The European Commission categorises dredged material as waste rather than a natural resource, making its disposal costly and time-consuming.

‘Stuart Roberts, the vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union, has warned the Government it needs to be more proactive with its dredging strategy.

‘He said: “With more extreme weather becoming ever more common, the Environment Agency must prioritise essential maintenance of flood defence assets and watercourses which have been neglected for decades”.’

Of course, this is not the first time this issue has reared its head,  Christopher Booker revealed that EU environmental directives lay behind the 2014 Somerset floods. 

While it is easy for the Environment Agency to blame the floods on ‘climate change’, recent rainfall was a long way from being ‘unprecedented’ or ‘biblical’. 

Fishlake, the village near Doncaster which is at the centre of the worst of the floods, lies in a very flat and low-lying area next to the River Don. As such it is extremely vulnerable to flooding, as a from 1922, 1928, 1932 and 1933 illustrate,  long with newspaper accounts from earlier centuries. You can see the material on my original blog. 

Going further back, Fishlake was a sea port in the Middle Ages. It was still a very marshy area until it was drained in the 17th century. 

As with the Somerset Levels, if drainage systems are not properly maintained, nature will reassert itself.


According to the Telegraph, the Environment Agency is also under fire for not giving adequate warning of the floods at Fishlake. 

I fail to understand why it did not.

The major factor in the recent floods was that the dams upstream of Sheffield were already full, and have been so for much of the summer. This made it inevitable that the heavy rainfall would cause problems downstream. The River Don was also at a high level beforehand.

Furthermore, the low-lying countryside around Fishlake was saturated prior to the rain. By coincidence, I went cycling there just two weeks ago, and the main road into Barnby Dun, just a couple of miles from Fishlake, was closed because of flooding, which had spilled over from adjacent fields.

In that particular area, the fields appear to be lower than the adjacent canal, making the water hard to drain away.

Given these conditions and the rainfall at Sheffield the day before, surely the EA should have been forewarned?

A longer version of this article was first published on Not a Lot of People Know That on November 14, 2019, and is republished by kind permission. 

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Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood is a former accountant who blogs about climate change at Not a Lot of People Know That

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