UK Flooding – Who’s To Blame?

Recent events have seen some of the worst flooding in Britain in living memory. But who is to blame?

It is easy to turn to the government with our problems, and this disaster has had the same effect. But is a lack of investment in flood defence really the reason for all of the flooding? And if not, what is?

Nearly all evidence points to the fact that the temperature is rising globally, with some studies suggesting an increase of 0.2 degrees centigrade per decade. The problem with warmer air is that it can hold significantly more water, meaning in simple terms that it can rain more. And the cause of this increase in global temperature? The simple answer is the commercial activities vital for modern life.

So does that mean that we are to blame? Certainly, the commercial activities that sustain our life, the ways we move around the planet and the way we live contributes to the greenhouse gases that are causing the planet to warm. But you probably already knew that. So, is there another reason?

In short, maybe…

Statistics released in 2012 by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) showed that the net migration of people within Britain from urban areas to countryside locations was approximately 40,000 per year. This equates to a shortage in rural housing. The answer? Greenfield development…

Building on fields isn’t exactly a recent phenomenon, but it is one which is causing problems now. The Campaign to Protect Rural England has estimated that an area equivalent to 2885 hectares (7129 acres) is concreted over under current legislation every year. Although I’m sure all of you can recognise that this is bad for the environment, many of you will be wondering what all of this has to do with flooding. The truth – more than you might think.

Estimates show that an acre of land can hold up to 2.1 million galleons of water – a staggering amount. However, if that acre is concreted over, water can no longer permeate into that soil, meaning that there is nowhere for that volume of water to go. Furthermore, any water which falls on developed land must also run off. 1 inch of rainfall equates to approximately 27000 galleons of water per acre. This water must also find somewhere to go. It is this water which is causing flooding; wherever we build on or develop land, water will run off and toward low-lying areas. This has a massive affect on flooding.

Based on the numbers above, and on some estimates, this level of building equates to 20282 million galleons of water extra per year which is displaced in the UK. The obvious thing to ask is; where can all this go? The answer – down the hill and, most likely, through someone’s front door.

Although this may not be the only reason for flooding in the UK, there is certainly a strong argument for its contribution and exacerbation of the problem. And, although flood defences may help to protect more vulnerable communities, it is not my opinion that the government is to blame for a lack of investmet, at least on this occasion!

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