Climate Change and Flooding [15 December 2015]

Today I spoke in the Climate Change and Flooding debate. Unfortunately I was unable to deliver my full speech due to time constraints in the chamber. You can watch the speech I delivered here and read my speech in full here –

UK Government analysis shows that Global Warming is expected to cause more intensive heavy rainfall events and we have to ask ourselves are we are prepared for the ramifications of those changes in our weather?

I note the government has set up a “National Flood Resilience Review” and a report will be published in summer 2016. I would hope this review looks far and wide for innovative sustainable solutions because it has rained before, it has flooded before and we have had reviews before.

And I fear the solution will not be found with more parliamentarians naval gazing.

The cry of “I want to make things right, just not right now” is how we fail to make things better.

I hear the Government promising over the next 6 years £2.3 billion capital funding in flood defences. And acknowledge that in 2014/15, the Government spent £171 million of tax payer’s money on flood maintenance.

But we are just like the wee boy with his finger in the dam.
Required as these actions are they don’t solve the problems.
We have two problems facing us.

First we are screwing up the environment, let’s be absolutely clear about that.

Turning that around is a massive task that sticking plaster policies will not address.

Second. We need to find ways to alleviate the flooding that we now see on an annual basis.

If we are to find adequate solutions to the problems of flooding it can only be done on a collaborative basis, with the cooperation of different levels of government and environmental organisations.

Every additional instance of flooding means more lost revenue for local businesses or damage to homes – we owe it to our constituents to meet or exceed our targeted time frames for tackling this issue.

We must also recognise that the way we have changed the environment has left us more exposed to the risks of flooding.
We should give serious consideration to reforestation, as one method of assisting with flood prevention.

Trees catch rainfall and take water from the soil, with careful planning they could be our first line of defence.

And these trees managed correctly lead us to the next logical stage.

Utilising Biomass boilers can maintain a closed carbon cycle with no net increase in atmospheric CO2 levels. If all public buildings used biomass boilers and could source their fuel, primarily wood pellets or wood chips, locally, we would start to see a coherent localised industry, employing local people as part of an environmentally friendly solution.

Reforestation is just one of many policies we could implement to improve our “catchment management” in the longer term.

Contour ploughing, restoring upland bogs, and reintroducing the meanders in straightened rivers are other measures we may wish to consider as we seek more permanent solutions.

One change will not fix the problem. But a series of correct adjustments will help in a number of different ways.

Mr Speaker, the lasting message I would like to leave the chamber is clear – until we have a greater appreciation of our role in changing the natural environment we will never find long term solutions to this problem.

Whether it is reforestation or tackling climate change, it is time for us to be bold with our policy making and ensure that no more lives, businesses or homes are ruined by flooding.

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