The recent floods in the north of England are a harsh reminder of the decisive action needed by Westminster
It’s real. A £100m bill, hundreds homeless, helicopters, loss adjusters, the tragic loss of a policeman swept away from a collapsed bridge. The government knows it must do more to put in place preventive measures against flood damage, but it’s just not the priority it should be.
Meanwhile, feeling increasingly unreal by comparison is the climate change debate. As world leaders prepare to land in Copenhagen to talk carbon emissions and lofty targets, the real green wash is happening in their own backyard. When are they going to get it?
The insurance industry is at the forefront of a rearguard action, but the lobby is not really being heard. There were concrete proposals outlined by Michael Pitt in his review of the catastrophic summer floods of 2007. But the Flood and Water Management Bill looks set to be delayed again until after an election, and then what priority will it receive from a new all-powerful political regime?
The reality is that it will get put by the wayside until devastation is again staring at us from the top bulletin on the 10 o’clock news and insurers are forced to privately issue warnings to ministers in the corridors of Westminster.
What’s on the table is for local authorities and the Environment Agency to be given more powers to deal with floods as they happen, including plans for reducing red tape for water and sewerage companies, as well as regulated reservoirs and strong national leadership on flood management in line with the current risk management thinking.
Better guidance and support should also be given to local businesses in affected areas, and mitigation of risk from surface-level flooding should be at the top of the government’s ‘to do’ list. It can all make a difference now but it takes a little bit of work, effort and co-ordination.
Convoluted national deals on the scope of insurance cover and whether cover should be in place at all is one thing, but let’s not let the national and global rhetoric get in the way of what is happening in front of our very eyes and do something about it pronto. IT