Thursday, July 26, 2007

After the horse has bolted?

On Tuesday (24th July) work began on one of the blocked dykes taking surface water from Gilberdyke to the river at Blacktoft as shown on previous post. Credit should be given to the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board for not procrastinating on this issue, but it should be acknowledged that this is somewhat after the 'horse has bolted' and there are still serious issues with the other dykes leading from Gilberdyke.


Anonymous said...

From the BBC 27th July 2007
According to NFU vice president Paul Temple, the effect on flooded farms is "phenomenal in terms of productivity. Farmers are also angry, the union says, because they believe much of the flooding could have been prevented if they were allowed to build dykes and ditches as they see fit, rather than having to devote land to conservation instead."

Anonymous said...

I totally agree we seem to have found ourselves in a situation where the rights of the vole, butterfly and newt are more important then the rights of the human being. Ultimately farmers are the protectors of the countryside - but if English Nature and the Environment Agency (who must shoulder a significant amount of the blame for the flood water being slow to drain away across the whole of the East Riding) by their actions prevent the farmers from doing this then they must be brought to account. This is something I’m sure will be prominent in the overall review of what happened following the flooding.

Anonymous said...

Interesting photographs Paul - they appear to show the machine cutting the reeds and growth from the bottom and sides of the dyke - but what about removing the silt build up - I wonder if this is still to be done or if the Drainage Board is only doing the minimum?

John Jessop said...

Dear Paul,

In connection with the recent flooding, subsequent posts, letters and photographs etc. It is a sad indictment on the various authorities which have been responsible for the maintenance of our drainage infrastructure over a number of years.

I realise that there is a risk of regarding my letter as yet another “oldie” rambling about the good old days but it is a fact that during the 1950s local drains were maintained by a small team of “dykemen” who wore waders and every year could be seen in the dykes armed with shovels and scythes. They mowed the weeds on the banks and shovelled out the accumulated silt, throwing it up onto the bank sides. Timber boarding and stakes were employed in some areas to define the edges of the waterways and prevent the banks falling in.

As with all other manual trades of the era rewards were not high but the workforce were expected and willing to put in a fair days work for their pay. The administration was carried out by a small number of local drainage board officers with a minimal staff without the support of computers. Drainage rates were levied but in the main were reasonable amounts.

As we now have “advanced” with the passing of time we have highly paid management staff on short hours with long holidays, a battery of clerks, typists and computers which we all know save work (don’t they?). The old, flexible dykeman no longer seems to exist. Instead we see gigantic tracked machinery which allegedly makes a better job but somehow does not clear out the restricted areas (sorry we can’t get in there with this machine).

As a result of this the constant trickle of minor maintenance work has not been carried out and whereas the old adage “a stitch in time saves nine” would have kept our drains and dykes clear we are now faced with serious obstacles and a need to commit huge amounts of expenditure to try to bring things back to an even keel. The problems are further compounded by the intervention of the “nature” conservation lobby. Because of the lack of maintenance silting up has occurred, mud/silt flats and reed beds have grown up and our conservationists want us to suffer continued poor performance to keep them albeit they have only existed for 40 or 50 years, hardly an ancient legacy!

I find myself wondering what would have happened in Victorian times. Would the people who allowed the situation to get out of hand still be employed in well paid jobs or would they have been fired for incompetence? Would the growth of a reed bed put at risk some highly productive land which is needed to produce food for the nation? I think not!

Who is in a position to deal with this situation and has the authority or power to bring about an effective economic solution? I wish I knew.

John Jessop

Paul Thompson said...

We seem to always reward poor performance! The Environmental agency is guilty of this in my opinion considering that it was keeping fewer than half the flood defences in high risk areas up to scratch.

Although the clean-up operation is continuing we hear news that senior executives at the Environment Agency received five-figure performance bonuses shortly before the recent floods.

It's reported that the agency's chief executive, Baroness Young, received a 15 per cent bonus of £24,000 on top of her £163,000 salary.

Eight other executives, including the director of water management, received awards averaging 10 per cent of their salaries.

Let's get back to making local issues the responsibility of local people but get the big guns working for us.

Paul (Main Road, Gilberdyke)