The recent bad weather across Britain, especially in the South West, has come at a particularly bad time. Not only has it ruined the New Year for many families, but repairing flood damage has become another financial pressure for cash-strapped individuals and local authorities.
It is no secret that bouts of severe weather are occurring more frequently. Regardless of the causes of this, and I share the views of the majority of scientific opinion that climate change is a consequence of the carbon we put into the atmosphere, we need to make sure we are better prepared to deal with it, as individuals, communities and as a country.
The problems posed by flooding and bad weather cause many more problems in the South West than in other parts of the country. With an extensive coastline, rural communities and limited transport links the need to be able to manage in bad weather is crucial for us.
However, significant cuts are planned in the environmental budget. As funding and jobs are lost, notably in flood prevention teams, our protection in the future will be jeopardised. We must ensure these cuts are kept to a minimum.
One of my main concerns is the resilience of the Clennon Valley Pumping station that sits below the valley flood plain and if its pumps were flooded and stopped working, could, in a severe weather event, cause two-,thirds of the bay’s sewerage to back-up into some people’s homes.
I took this up with South West Water, the Environment Agency and our elected Mayor two years ago as all three need to work together to find a solution. Perhaps the recent severe weather events will prompt action.