Chris Smith – The Kevin Pietersen of the Environment Agency!

Posted on February 10, 2014

As the low pressure systems continue to line up in the Atlantic, I can’t help but feel that like the England cricketer, Kevin Pietersen, the Environment agency and in particular, Chris Smith, are the scapegoats for everyone’s flooding woes.

Let’s get this straight, this winter is set to be the wettest for 250 years in the UK, so, as far as I can see, there is not a lot anyone can do about it except sit, watch and hope the angry 250 miles per hour jet stream calms itself down sometime soon.


 The Flooded Banks of the Avon in Ringwood

The brain capacity of some people does make me wonder sometimes; what do they expect, the EA to row out to the middle of the Atlantic and tell the low pressure systems they are no longer welcome? Or do they think the EA should have of somehow predicted the wet weather and spent millions of pounds devising a huge mechanical fan to blow the low pressure systems north so they drown the unsuspecting citizens of Iceland?

There is absolutely nothing anyone can do about the weather and whilst there is no doubt that the environment agency, like any other agency, could improve; I really don’t know what they can do to reverse a unique sequence of weather events?

The popular place for the press to visit in recent weeks is the Somerset Levels. The word level is something of a give-away and whilst the people there are having a rough time, no government or agency for the environment forced them  to move there.

Last week was something of a claim to fame for the folk on the Levels, as it is not every week you get a Clown Prince, a Prime Minister, and with a long awaited visit from EA Chief, Chris Smith, starring as the villain, we were only Frank Bruno in a frilly dress short of a classic pantomime.

“You didn’t consider dredging”

Oh yes you did.”

“Oh no you didn’t.”

Meanwhile, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has proved to be the spiteful git I always suspected he was, conveniently not mentioning that the EA had been stripped of £100 million government spending and the loss off 25 per cent of their staff as he said:

 “We made a mistake, there’s no doubt about that. We perhaps relied too much on the Environment Agency’s advice. I am really sorry that we took the advice … we thought we were dealing with experts.”


Pickles: “We thought we were dealing with experts.”

Rather than listening to that spineless bastard, perhaps the general public are better off listening to Dr Hannah Cloke, a flooding expert at Reading University who said:

 “The EA have responded particularly well to this series of flood events, but of course more could be done with more funding.”

She added that the focus of ministers on dredging “shows short-term politics has trumped long-term scientific and economic evidence. Taxpayers’ cash would be better spent on more effective, long-term soft engineering schemes to protect homes, such as water capture and upland tree planting.”

Dredging is the political buzz word at the moment, a word to bash the EA to protect the government from a backlash about public sector cuts that now seem unwise, particularly in the current situation. All you hear is dredge this dredge that and this would all be a non-issue.

Those of you who enjoy fishing or weekend walks by the river, admiring a Kingfisher sat on a fence post, or fish taking flies off the water surface, think what it would be like if the British water meadows became dredged and concreted, creating a huge UK guttering system.

Dredging is a not the answer to flooding, not a sound environmental one anyway. The answer revolves around changing laws on building on flood plains and investing in engineers who know about flood control, not dim witted politicians who are looking at point scoring.

Ultimately though, this is not Indonesia and though the risk to life has been increased during the storms, the fatalities have been few and far between and some of the links between deaths and the weather have often been tenuous.

It has to be said that even if the EA hadn’t lost staff and finance due to continued budget cuts, the weather systems would still be lining up like busses and low level areas like the Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley would still get flooded.

We either accept that this is a once in 100 years phenomenon and get on with it the best we can until it dries up, or we make a dubious assumption it is a result of climate change and will be a regular event from this year onwards.

If that is the assumption, the people in low level areas will have to make long term structural changes to suit and the governments will need to listen to flood experts and stop clearing the planning for construction firms to build on flood plains.

In the meantime, as the Tories continue resist claiming that they are only dealing with the mess left behind by the previous Government, I am going to pen a charity song called “Sandbanks for Somerset”

Give it five years and I will be known as Sir Bob and I will be living in a Sloane Square Mansion.



1 Reply to "Chris Smith - The Kevin Pietersen of the Environment Agency!"

  • John
    February 10, 2014 (6:43 pm)


    Gone are the days of Mr Ings and the infamous quote “as red as a beetroot sir”, your literaty prowess now leaves me feeling totally inadequate as I fret about how best to respond to your blogs. Any writing I do these days is either unreadable scribble or spellchecked bullshit containing comments like “going forward” or “seeing the bigger picture” far too many times.

    I felt compelled to have a go though, largely due to it being one of the two days in the week I have chosen to only eat 600 calories and I need something to take my mind off the fact that I am bloody starving, but also because all this flooding just may result in some much needed extra business for someone like me with high targets and more competition than I care to think about.

    I also feel it’s unfair to keep bashing the EA especially given they have had to manage with less money ( I didn’t know that). I wonder if Eric Pickles still has his funded Central London flat, from memory he lives 10/15 miles out of London. I can’t stand the fat twat.

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