September 2008 Comments

It has been a considerable time since I last made comment since then little has changed on the Policy front although I am aware that much is going on behind the scenes

I have done much work on ensuring the key players are very much aware of the grief and hardship their abortive management of our coast is causing to an ever increasing number of people.

Now I have no doubt DEFRA, the Environment Agency (EA), Natural England (NE) and even the Treasury are fully aware of the effects of that abortive management policy on individuals and communities all around our coast.

Anyone who wants to learn where and when this policy fiasco started should read an article published in the New Scientist magazine , issue 1854 on 2nd January 1993

More recently there is a very clear indication of the low priority afforded to people, their homes and businesses in stark contrast to the very high priority afforded to flora and fauna. One need look no further than the minutes of the EA Board Meeting which took place on the 10th July 08 at North Lakes Hotel Penrith ( I bet that cost us a few bob ).

On page 7 is paragraph 27 I quote :

"The Board questioned the relatively low standard of protection along much of the Happisburgh to Winterton frontage ( 1:20 ). It was explained that this standard of protection is appropriate for natural habitats, which NE has indicated would recover with that frequency of inundation". Please note, no mention of people and their homes or communities and whether they could cope with being inundated by the sea every 20 years or so. Need I say more ?

What they consistantly choose to ignore is the inescapable fact that there has been absolutely no Government money spent on protection at Happisburgh for app 48 years!! WHY?

NE of course is Government's latest Quango and I have read some of the utterances of their Chief Executive and quite honestly her views frighten me witless. Can anyone tell me what role NE is supposed to fill other than their achievment thus far which seems to be making the lives of mankind on the coast much worse and thoroughly miserable?

Oh well I suppose we should blame the blithering idiots who created NE and gave them their remit which, as all involved will tell you and use as a kind of get out clause, does not include Homo Sapiens or his habitat. That, in my view, was an error of enormous proportions which I suspect will haunt coastal dwellers for many a year yet. Is man not as much a part of the natural environment as any other species?

Various Government Ministers their Aides and Quangos have repeated ad nauseum the two phrases which are guaranteed to set my hackles going. They are "we must achieve maximum value for the taxpayer" (as if they would have any idea of what that means ) and when deciding to abandon defences and communities "we cannot justify the expenditure to the wider taxpayer". With those comments in mind I have spent months looking at some of the figures behind the facade of the EA. Early indications are that only a relatively small amount of our money given to them for Flood and Coast Protection is actually spent on allieviation works the bulk of it appears to be going on running the EA itself. Indeed it appears that money wasting by the various Departments, Agencies and Quangos is both systemic and significant.

I leave you to ponder the fact that my figures show that the EA head office alone cost you and me (the wider taxpayer) £67million last year. If and when I get other figures confirmed I shall bring them to you.

Malcolm Kerby (25 September 2008)