Flooding Exposes Folly Of UK’s Misbalanced Climate Policies

By Paul Homewood

There’s obviously a lot going on regarding the floods, so this is a quick round up.

First, a press release from GWPF, pointing out that the tens of billions current wasted on renewable subsidies could have been employed on flood defences:


Since 2002 the UK has been spending increasingly large sums on climate change mitigation, mostly through subsidies to renewables. Between 2017 and today, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the UK has spent £25 billion on subsidising renewable electricity, with over £9 billion in the last year alone. (https://obr.uk/efo/economic-fiscal-outlook-march-2019/)
The OBR estimates that in the next four years alone (2020 to 2024) the UK will spend nearly £44 billion on renewables subsidies.

A fraction of these vast expenditures could have delivered greatly improved flood prevention, defences and disaster recovery systems. Comparable spending would have made the UK extremely resilient in the face of natural disasters.

The UK obviously has the balance of adaptation and mitigation very badly wrong.

As a direct result of costly and ineffective climate change mitigation policies the country has underinvested in adaptation measures. These measures are very effective and “no regrets” policies because they yield dividends immediately and protect citizens against flooding and other natural disasters whether they are related to climate change or not.

All political parties must take a share of the blame for this costly failure. It should be noted, however, that the fixation with climate change mitigation via renewable energy is largely the result of decisions taken by the European Union. That can now change.

The opportunity of rebalancing UK climate policy is one of the most significant Brexit dividends and should be seized without delay.
Dr Benny Peiser, the GWPF’s director, said:

The UK’s current climate and decarbonisation policies deliver few if any benefits to UK communities affected by persistent flooding.
Even if the UK were ever to achieve Net Zero CO2 emissions, towns and communities would still have to deal with flooding and other extreme weather events that won’t disappear just because the Government throws billions at wind and solar energy. 
It is time for the government to redirect resources  towards adaptation measures that would have prevented or minimised much of the misery and economic harm caused by flooding.



Secondly there is a useful website, Eye on Calderdale, which has a detailed list of historical floods in the Valley, back to 1615:




Naturally, some of the earlier events were never documented, but a quick count reveals 22 floods in Calder Valley between 1830 and 1895. Dozens more are listed in the 20thC.

Most are what we would regard as “serious”.


Thirdly a reminder of a study published in 2017, which looked at flood trends in Britain back to 1750, and found several periods in the past with comparable high magnitude floods:




And finally, a plug for a fascinating book, Taming the Flood, which reminds us we need to learn from how our ancestors managed the land and rivers.

Beautifully written and magnificently illustrated with photographs, line drawings and maps, this book serves both as a celebration of the richness of the British countryside, and as a warning of the legacy of loss and destruction we could so easily leave to future generations.

In recent years the Somerset Levels suffered from the worst flooding in over twenty years, and more recently, flooding in Cumbria and other parts of Britain have reached new levels of severity. Taming the Flood analyses many of the conflicting demands made on rivers and wetlands, offering practical solutions which aim to protect, rather than destroy, these important ecological habitats.

Exploring the old arguments and new solutions raised over the last 400 years, this completely updated edition of the classic Taming the Flood reveals how harnessing nature, rather than attempting to repress it, is the only answer to the environmental disasters we are faced with today.

As a practical landscape architect and ecologist working in the water industry, Jeremy Purseglove has been actively involved in land drainage engineering to try to enhance, rather than destroy, the heritage of our rivers and wetlands. He charts the conservation, agriculture and development of our rivers and wetlands, outlining practical proposals for the protection and use of these sensitive habitats.

From the Lancashire mosses and the Derwent Ings, Otmoor and the Fens, to Romney Marsh and the Somerset Levels, he traces the history and natural history of our rivers and wetlands, describing in vivid detail both the beauty of these strange and ancient landscapes, and the often disastrous results of attempts to tame them.




February 18, 2020 at 06:39AM

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