My Big Mouth: Britain must be prepared for all weathers


Analysis by the Met Office has suggested that at least once a decade the UK could suffer a severe short term drought.


By Christine Dorisamy-Pillai

On Tuesday temperatures reached 17 degrees, and people dared to believe spring had finally arrived. By Sunday, the thermometer will have plunged back to 0, with some snow showers expected. 

It is fitting that Chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, chose this week to say that the UK must become more resilient when faced with adverse weather conditions such as drought or flooding.

Recent figures from the agency show that on one in every five days in 2012 there was flooding, and on one in every four days there was drought. The UK’s rivers such as the Tyne, Ouse and Tone fell to their lowest and rose to their highest recorded levels all within a four month period in the year.

“The extremes of weather that we saw last year highlight the urgent need to plan for a changing climate,” said Lord Smith. 

“In 2012 we saw environmental damage caused by rivers with significantly reduced flows, hosepipe bans affecting millions and farmers and businesses left unable to take water from rivers.

“But we also saw the wettest year on record in England, with around 8,000 homes flooded. Interestingly 2007, which saw some of the most severe flooding in recent memory, also started the year with hosepipe bans.

Lord Smith’s comments are well overdue – and it is not only droughts and floods that we endure every year in the UK. Whenever even the tiniest amount of snow falls upon us, the whole country seemingly grinds to a halt.

The transport system either partly shuts down or at the very least suffers delays. Schools close, so then the parents who might have made it into work either have to scramble around for childcare at short notice or take the day off work.

Politicians also use it as a scapegoat for shrinkages in the economy. This shouldn’t be the case. The Scandinavian countries often have far vaster amounts of snow and it’s business as usual.

People argue that we don’t have snow often enough to spend money investing in the equipment to deal with it, but we seem to have the same debate every year. Surely we should just spend the money and the likes of George Osborne will have to find another reason to hide behind for our failing economy?

With the extreme weather conditions set to continue, it is about time something was done to appease the effects and it seems that at last this has been recognised by someone who has the power to make it happen. 

Photo courtesy of freefotouk, with thanks.

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