Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 29 November 2012


It seems a long time ago now, but last winter was one of the driest on record and in the first three months of 2012 a drought was declared, with part of the country being on stand pipes. But as my farmer father regularly reminds me, nature will always compensate.
Since Easter it has hardly stopped raining. Most years at the horse shows we have to have our old lorry towed out once or twice. This year we have been towed ONTO the field several times.

For the first time ever my constituency office was flooded this weekend and only a major dose of Dunkirk spirit kept our well oiled machine running.

Train lines washed away and our transport infrastructure severely disrupted. Being on a peninsula our transport links with the rest of the country are an essential life-line. Some people are experiencing water and mud surging into their homes for the second time this year. There is no sadder task than visiting a home that has had three feet of water lapping around the ground floor. Even if most homes are secure, communities around the constituency have to battle with persistent flooding in their streets.

Whether or not this assault upon us is caused by man's use of the planet and the burning of fossil fuels nobody knows for sure, but we are certainly experiencing climate change bringing with it more dramatic weather patterns.

So what is to be done? We have been here before and we have to adapt. Our primary focus must continue to be on flood prevention and flood defences. I am suggesting to my colleagues in government that we could do with hearing about this than the constant call to invest in wind farms. We all know that there is no money at the moment, but anti-flooding measures need to become a higher political priority.

In the meantime, it is important that we act to alleviate future problems. Not a single new house should ever be built on or near a flood plain. This should become a hard and fast rule. The Environment Agency is much better at predicting and giving flood warnings and we must be better at looking out for them and responding.

In this way government both local and national must do their utmost to protect us. But as ever, each of us must also take responsibility to do our bit. I will be spending the weekend filling sand bags.

posted by Gary @ 09:30