|River Lea at Batford, Harpenden, flooding into the leat (courtesy of Natalie Edwards)|
It seems never ending. This time last year we were all up to our knees in snow, and I got frostbite trying to back a borrowed transit out of a tight space (you can read all about it here) Now we are all being flooded by endless rain, and although we are not seeing devastation anything like other parts of the country, we are seeing areas of land covered with water that have not been before.
The area above (River Lea flooding into the leat at Batford) is just a hop and a jump from a run down industrial estate that a local developer wants to build on (the same developer that will build on Westfield allotments if planning permission is ever granted, remember this?) Local people, in a laughable ''consultation process'', suggested some of the things they'd like to see if planning permission were granted. A surgery, a chemist, a community meeting point, a post office and a cafe being high on their bucket-list. Bless. Of course the developer has rejected this, because, let's face it, it won't generate enough profit, and instead has put in for offices, flats and a paltry amount of ''affordable housing''.
The Environmental Agency has now designated the whole locality an area of high flooding risk (see pic, they're not wrong). The developer has insisted they will put in mitigation strategies. Which, translated into reality means that at some point, they will go back to the council and say that the cost of the strategies is so high that they won't be able to build the ''affordable'' houses after all. That's how it works. And the Town Council, which seems to be in thrall to its own arrogance as well as to any large developer ... will roll over and let them renege on the agreement. That is also how it works.
And the whole area will continue to flood. But who cares? Money will have been made. No face will have been lost. That's what's important to the Tory mindset, seemingly. I have been sickened by the pictures of terrified farm animals being herded into lorries and driven away on the Somerset levels. More sickening still is the ''blame game'' now being played by the same government ministers who cut the flood defence budget, took money away from the Environment Agency, reduced staffing levels, denied climate change was a real prospect, sold off the dredging equipment, and now are finger pointing like the heartless uncaring offspring of unwed mothers that they are.
It should never be forgotten that this government also relaxed the planning laws in the face of severe pressure from the building lobby, making it easier for ruthless greedy developers to build upon flood plains. And urban green spaces. The one I'm trying to defend has been happily soaking up the rain like nobody's business, so we only suffered some flooding behind my house, but it will contribute considerably to local flooding if/when it is entirely tarmacked over. We look forward with dread to Winters of sandbags and misery.
The climate may change, the Tory mindset at all levels does not.