Coffee House The View from 22

Podcast: Somerset vs. the Environment Agency, the politics of flooding and being a dirty old man

13 February 2014

13 February 2014

Did the people of Somerset see the floods coming? On this week’s View from 22 podcast, the Sunday Telegraph’s Christopher Booker discusses why the Environment Agency was so ill prepared for the floods and ignorant towards the Somerset Levels. Was European Union regulation at fault? Would more dredging have totally prevented the floods? And has the Agency been as careless with their attitude towards the River Thames?

Cosmo Landesman also debates Mary Wakefield on whether he is a dirty old man. What now defines a ‘dirty old man’? Is it creepy for older gentlemen to compliment younger women? Are there more 50+ men who are remaining sexually active? Is it wrong for women reciprocate or should they ignore such advances?

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Plus James Forsyth and Isabel Hardman discuss the political nature of the floods. How much of David Cameron’s future reputations hangs on his handling the crisis? How is he doing so far? And was it necessary for Ed Miliband to cancel his trip to the Middle East?

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Show comments
  • pjl20

    I saw a map today of Britain in the 9th century AD. The area of Somerset was then shown as being subject to tidal flooding.

    Sea defences were put up in the early part of the 20th century, with the help of Dutch engineers I believe.

    The river system is part of the ecology of the levels, but the drainage has been neglected of late. Was this purely for a lack of money, lack of initiative, lobbying from green groups, or what?

    The residents and farming community of Somerset surely have the first say on how this area is kept and the flood-risk minimised?

  • dalai guevara

    Fatuous waffle from Booker. When will this disinformant finally be made to put meat on the bones of his baseless assertions?

    • Denis_Cooper

      You’ll find some meat here:

      http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84705

      and in earlier articles on that site.

      Then you can move on from Stage 2:

      “This is nothing whatsoever to do with the EU”

      “It’s laughable how some people want to blame the EU for every problem in this country”

      to Stage 3:

      “Well, I’m as eurosceptic as the next man, but actually I would agree with the EU on this”

      “It’s the fault of the UK government not the EU”.

      • dalai guevara

        Yes I could do that, but not before forgetting completely about how EU member states Austria, Germany, Holland, Denmark and France et al have all also faced their very own specific issues with flooding and somehow appear to be putting their EA equivalent bodies and funding, in particular their military capabilities, to much better use. When adding up funding and bodies on the ground we find that our EA is still larger than the respective bodies of all the nations listed above combined.

        • Denis_Cooper

          Well done, you’ve got on to Stage 3:

          “It’s the fault of the UK government not the EU”.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Any sign of Dave’s dredgers yet? Thought not. It would contravene an EU directive and Dave could not countenance admitting there is such a directive, let alone standing against it.
    As for the poor benighted inhabitants of the Somerset Levels, don’t hold your breath in anticipation of the 7th Cavalry arriving from Westminster. There is no such body of men and if there were Dave would confine them to barracks for fear of Brussels ordering him to stand them down.
    Meanwhile, the BBC and the rest of the MSM have abandoned you in favour of the flood stories connected with the Thames. Much less contentious for the Westminster Elite as there is no EU elephant in that room.

    The entire Westminster and media bubble mistakenly take the people of this nation for fools. But, they will eventually be forced to accept that is not the case, because the old adage that “you can fool some of the people some of the time” still holds true.

  • teledaft

    Don’t see anyone here bleating on about wealthy land owners taking millions out of the Eu common agricultural fund.

    • Denis_Cooper

      I don’t see anyone here “bleating” on about anything here, they’re not sheep no matter how some may regard them.

      • teledaft

        No opinion on this I see

        • Denis_Cooper

          Yes. my opinion is that you should stop denigrating people who disagree with you as merely sheep “bleating”.

          • teledaft

            The way i see it is they disagree with themselves

          • teledaft

            Still no opinion on wealth landowners taking millions in farming subsidies,I see

  • Denis_Cooper

    “Was European Union regulation at fault?”

    Well, let’s just run through the usual sequence:

    1. Avoid any mention of the EU and hope that nobody else will mention it.

    2. If they do mention it, haughtily accuse them of ignorance and say “This is nothing whatsoever to do with the EU”, and add in some ridicule by saying “It’s laughable how some people want to blame the EU for every problem in this country”.

    3. When forced to retreat from that first position by the weight of evidence, fall back on “Well, I’m as eurosceptic as the next man, but actually I would agree with the EU on this”, and “It’s the fault of the UK government not the EU”, and so forth.

    4. If all else fails, resort to accusations of “racism”, “xenophobia”, “bigotry”, etc.

    Or, if you prefer, skip 2. and 3. and go straight to 4.

  • anyfool

    Would more dredging have totally prevented the floods?
    It does not matter if it would have totally prevented the floods, that you intimate that EU regulations are not at fault because it would not completely prevent flooding is craven excuse making by a EU fanatic.
    It would have prevented a lot of the flooding, it worked for a long time before some witless idiot in the EU made up some silly regulation about putting the silt next to the rivers to build up the defences.

    • Dan Grover

      I’m confused – did you actually listen to the podcast? It made it pretty clear that the EU regulation *did* have a large impact and that any dredging would have had a positive affect, though not completely stopped flooding. Who are you even referring to when you say “EU Fanatic”?

  • teledaft

    Why not apply to the Eu for funds from the European solidarity fund,this is what it was created for.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Why not stop sending our money to the EU so that later we might be able to “apply” to get some back with strings attached?

      • teledaft

        Doesn,t really help now though.

        • Denis_Cooper

          It would help in the future.

          • teledaft

            Still waiting for an argument against applying for aid from the European solidarity fund

            • Denis_Cooper

              Still waiting for an argument why we should pay into it in the first place so that people like you can then attempt to impress us with the benefits of the EU by saying we might be able to get some of our own money back if we “apply” for it.

              • teledaft

                I am not arguing about whether we should pay into the EU,you are.I am arguing that as we have already paid in why not take some back.Still waiting for an argument against applying for relief from the European solidarity fund

                • Denis_Cooper

                  … so that people like you can then attempt to impress us with the benefits of the EU by saying we might be able to get some of our own money back if we “apply” for it.

                • teledaft

                  That’s a wild accusation,I have no intention of trying to impress you on the benefits of the EU.Still waiting for a coherent reason we should not apply

        • Hexhamgeezer

          and neither does the EUSF..

          ‘It is worth noting that the EUSF is not a rapid response instrument for dealing with the effects of a natural disaster. Financial aid can only be granted to the applying State following an application and budgetary process which can take several months to complete.’

          Around a third of applications are approved typically covering less than a tenth of the damage.

          • teledaft

            Still,I can see no reason not to apply

            • Hexhamgeezer

              EUSF only covers uninsurable damage.

            • Hexhamgeezer

              EUSF only covers uninsurable damage.

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