Skip to content

Flooding Exposes Folly Of UK’s Misbalanced Climate Policies

February 18, 2020

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. (
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.

  1. Pancho Plail permalink
    February 18, 2020 12:52 pm

    So the choice seems to be between spending a comparatively small amount on measures that are known to be effective and have practical, beneficial results in the short term, or spending orders of magnitude more money on measures whose effectiveness are speculative and, even if correct, will not yield results for decades. Now that is a difficult one.

  2. February 18, 2020 1:19 pm

    As well as of course the 150 plus billion on the train and the bridge to nowhere….

  3. Broadlands permalink
    February 18, 2020 2:11 pm

    “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.”

    Net Zero CO2 emissions means no petrol fuels and no way to escape flooding. Wind turbines, solar panels (and batteries) are replaceable not renewable.

    • Mack permalink
      February 18, 2020 3:36 pm

      Indeed, and charging stations under a few feet of water and traffic jams on escape routes might not make EVs look as sexy as HMG wants us to think. And, as for diesel pumps with em, no diesel, well our ‘Hail Mary’ energy future just looks better and better.

  4. Charles Turner permalink
    February 18, 2020 2:20 pm

    I totally agree – chasing moonbeams will not save us as Extinction Rebellion want – merely make matters worse by chasing the wrong culprit and wasting so much money that could be better used in dealing with the consequences of climate change.

    Perhaps we should come up with a “tipping point” of our own saying when it will be no longer possible to take the measures necessary to save capitalism and thus the world that we know.

    Bring back Common Sense.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 18, 2020 3:30 pm

      Charles, XR don’t wanf to savd us from CC. Their strategy is to use the scare of CC to turn ths UK into another Venezuela. Expect millions unemployed and a hand to mouth existence with frequent power-cuts.

      • StephenP permalink
        February 18, 2020 4:35 pm

        ER must be fed up now as today’s DT had an article saying that employment in the UK was at a record high.
        How many of the demonstrators have jobs?
        Maybe they could be employed digging silt from rivers rather than vandalising college lawns.

    • Charles Turner permalink
      February 18, 2020 4:29 pm

      Thank God that I am old and won’t have to suffer for long, provided that Corona does not get me first! Never fancied Venezuela much in any case……

      • ianprsy permalink
        February 18, 2020 6:37 pm

        Wrong attitude, mate. This should spur you on to live to be 100 or as long as it takes to blow this wide open!

  5. Bob Aldridge permalink
    February 18, 2020 4:31 pm

    Just been reading the Oxford Illustrated History of Britain (1984) which states that “In general, such evidence as we have for the Roman period suggests that climate was broadly similar to present day Britain …. In the 3rd century the onset of rather wetter climatic conditions seems to be revealed by evidence of flooding in many parts of Europe, with serious problems for low-lying land, rivers and harbours. So it would seem that climatic conditions were by no means constant throughout the period.”
    Indeed! Those damned Romans and their central heating, roads, sword-making etc. have a lot to answer for!

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      February 18, 2020 7:15 pm

      It’s well known that 350 AD approx. was a shift to a cooler and wetter climate in UK, some crops became ungrowable in areas where they had flourished and new marshes formed swamping old Roman roads. This was even mentioned on an old (1980s?) BBC history program I saw a few months ago that miraculously escaped the censor’s knife. This of course fits the fact that the Roman period was warmer than today. And inconveniently that conversely to the claims, it is cooling that is associated with wetter weather in the UK, not warming.

      It’s a bit like really old BBC wildlife programs when the conservation issues, if mentioned, were real. It reminds you how watchable the BBC history and natural history used to be.

      Now every program is just an excuse for another climate emergency lecture.

      • Up2snuff permalink
        February 19, 2020 12:11 pm

        MrGN, I think BBC R4 may have mentioned it this year – may have been Melvin Bragg’s In Our Time – or last. Towards the end of the Roman’s time in the UK the weather got so vile, that that weather when combined with the unfriendliness of natives in Scotland and central & eastern England, that the Romans were quite pleased to push off back home or to sunnier climes to shore up their Empire.

        Bragg’s IOT last week 13 Feb dealt with the Germanic tribes defeat of the Romans in the Teutoburg Forest and severe bad weather played a part in that.

  6. Huw T permalink
    February 18, 2020 6:20 pm

    In this time of utter irrationality and insane statements we really do need a voice of calm and good sense. We do not get it from the media, especially from the likes of the BBC. Thank heavens for this site !

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 18, 2020 7:04 pm

    Hydrogen plant ‘investment’.

    They effectively admit it’s currently grossly expensive, unproven, and not ‘green’.

    Millions down the drain on a wing and a prayer – a mere ‘hope’ something may come from it – when common sense says using fossil fuels less efficiently is bonkers.

    • Adrian, East Anglia permalink
      February 19, 2020 9:37 am

      “The pilot projects….have been allocated £5.2m of the government’s investment.”

      Unfortunately, government has no money of its own. It is all public money, extracted via the multiple mechanisms of the taxation system. I don’t remember being asked my opinion of this particular ‘investment opportunity’.

  8. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 18, 2020 7:23 pm

    Here’s a thought. The BBC were pushing the news that the Severn was at an all-time high in Worcester. OK. Is that a level of water taken from a defined riverbed level or from a bed that has not been dredged. What I’m getting at is, what volume of water was above the riverbed compared to previous years?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 18, 2020 9:44 pm

      Last time I passed through they were busy building new housing on the floodplain. Quite mad.

      • StephenP permalink
        February 19, 2020 7:32 am

        I remember flooding back in the 1960s at Newtown on a bend in the river Severn where houses had been built on a floodplain.
        Stupid is nothing new.

    • mikewaite permalink
      February 18, 2020 10:20 pm

      As a boy I had regular summer (August) holidays in the 50s with grandparents in Worcester. Each time the race course was flooded. One time the cricket ground opposite the Cathedral had lakes of water beneath the pavilion, and because the tourists were due to play the County, BBC were there . Brian Johnston came out of the paviion with a fishing rod and dangled it in the lake to entertain the sparse audience hoping for some play and the later TV viewers. He did not once mention climate change to my recall.

    • Up2snuff permalink
      February 19, 2020 3:54 pm

      Harry, a very good question. I noted, with a suitable dose of irony (none from the Beeboid reporter) a Radio4 report in the last day or two (may have been this a.m.) from where ‘flood defences’ had been installed following a previous flood a few years ago. The waters were threatening to overtop the new ‘defences’. The reporter had not bothered to find out whether, after the ‘flood defences’ were installed, debris had been cleared from the river and the river had been dredged.

  9. February 18, 2020 7:38 pm

    Dellers covers it all with lots of references to our host and his work. Well done Paul.

  10. John Halstead permalink
    February 18, 2020 11:26 pm

    It’s becoming politically correct to bang on about how man has supposed to have instigated climate change, the CC disciples don’t think beyond the latest school children’s strike or the outpouring of twaddle from Greta Thunberg and the BBC.

  11. Elizabeth Glaisher permalink
    February 19, 2020 7:41 am

    There was a period during the Middle Ages where it ” rained” for about 10 years.

  12. ianprsy permalink
    February 19, 2020 8:55 am

    “It calls for public debate …”

    As with everything to do with this issue, it starts at the wrong place. The fundamental question should be WHY? not how?

  13. jack broughton permalink
    February 19, 2020 10:07 am

    The BBC continue with their mantra, a woman who was called a flooding expert said. “There is no evidence that flooding is more severe or more common…. but, the probability of flooding is being increased by climate change”. Naturally, no questioning of this assertion by the Big Brother Climate police.

  14. Up2snuff permalink
    February 19, 2020 3:44 pm

    In the early/mid 1980s, before my firm moved an expanding department to new offices, I had an office overlooking the River Thames and the Pool of London. That central London Thames area was being dredged. I cannot remember now exactly how long it took but the extra traffic was interesting and some of the sizeable equipment used brought added interest to lunchtime walks.

    It took a considerable time – possibly over a year. At the time, some quibbled about the expense but it was pointed out to the complainers that not only would ships of size be no longer accommodated there, and all sizeable river traffic eventually cease, but the Greenwich flood barrier, designed to prevent another ‘1953’ would be rendered inoperable because it would not be possible to use it without flooding the City of London and Southwark, especially.

    All rivers and lakes, even down to the size of garden ponds, require management otherwise nature will eventually create bogs, then copses and then woodlands. It is ironic that the so-called Environmentalists are the ones who do not understand the forces and power of the natural world.

Comments are closed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: