Thanks to amounts of rain you only see every 50 years or so, we have massive floods in the South and South-West.
Cue much gnashing and wailing as to why this not particularly unique weather event has caused so much devastation.
The people on the Somerset levels expressed an opinion that the lack of dredging in their respective rivers was the cause and they may be right. But I mean, they sound surprised and angry. But they shouldn't be, as the Environment Agency's agenda is hinted at in their title. They serve the Environment, not the people.
They would rather save voles than save houses. A look at their website shows a great deal of emphasis on The environment, climate change, recreation and if you look at the business side, a lot on licences (revenue generation) and pollution control. But next to nothing on the day-to-day work that the Agency does to maintain the water courses under their care. Priorities eh?
There's a great emphasis on management, in preference to action. In management speak that to me says "we take a suck it and see attitude to flooding. If we can get away with spending as little money as possible and getting green points by saying we're saving voles then we will do. But if we get caught out we'll throw a lot of management platitudes at the problem and hope that the government is embarrassed enough to give us a bigger executive pay award next year".
For instance its a lot less controversial to say we're not dredging to preserve wildlife habitat than saying "we can't dredge because our executive wage bill has soaked up all the funds", its a lot easier to say save the vole than to say the MD needs a new Jag and a top up on his pension pot.
In the meantime those of us that pay for the Environment Agency; the taxpayer, has to suffer with flooded homes and by default bigger insurance bills.
Another point on the floods is that if they were in any other country, the government would be pledging billions in aid. Notice how hard its been to drag the millions that the government has half-heartedly pledged to flood victims. Just how much of that I wonder will go to the vole-saving Environment agency and how much will end up in expanding executive pension pots?
There's a very obvious lack of detail when it comes to where the money is coming from and where exactly its being spent.
The depressing thing is that I doubt that any more than just a fraction of the money will trickle down to compensate the poor flooded home owner or go to protecting them from future flooding, if any of it at all.
Its all very sad, as we used to be a nation proud of our ability to do public works.
Finally, in years gone by the military would have been mobilised before now to shore up the manpower needed to protect life and property, all documented in a black and white newsreel with a plummy voiceover. I just wonder why troops haven't been mobilised this time. Is the Army so overstretched it can't supply the troops to help out?
NEW ARRIVALS -
4 months ago