12/02/2014 Newsnight


12/02/2014

Jeremy Paxman presents a Newsnight special on the floods crisis, live from the Thames Valley.


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Transcript


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Hello from the backroom of the George pub in the village of

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Wraysbury on the not so lovely banks of the River Thames, or where the

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banks used to be. The boxer Henry Cooper used to train in this room,

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apparently. Tonight, we've filled it with some of the people who've felt

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the consequences of the wettest bit of weather for a couple of hundred

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years. Facing them, the Cabinet Minister, Philip Hammond. People

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here have discovered to their cost what living on a flood plain can

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mean and how very fragile are many of the assumptions on which modern

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life is based. What you really notice is how some houses have

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escaped almost unscathed and others are perhaps less well designed and

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have seen the floodwater warning in. -- pouring in. The Prime Minister

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has chosen to make this a test of his government, although he

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discovered today that putting flesh on bones is much more complicated

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than merely making promises. When you say money is no object, are you

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setting yourself up as a hostage to fortune? At what stage do you save

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the tap has to be turned off? -- say. This is the highest point in

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the village, an island of dryness surrounded by wetness. Apart from a

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bit of aircraft noise, which you might hear a little of, it's

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normally a quiet enough place. Lots of people work at Heathrow so it's

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an occupational hazard. It's not stockbroker belt but is part of a

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constituency which has sent a Conservative MP to Westminster since

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Benjamin Disraeli was Tory leader. David Cameron has made helping those

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afflicted by what in earlier times was considered an act of God a test

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of his government. Here in the bar, a few of the locals. With me are two

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of the flood wardens. What is a moot? We are elated we have got the

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military in, it was very emotional and frustrating. This sounds like

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the contradiction. We are elated we have the military. And frustrated at

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the flooding. I saw the flood warnings on the ground but we have

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the military and the police in and everybody else to help. We have

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always been on our own. 2003, totally on our own with no support

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or back-up. We had a little bit of help. You are quite impressed by the

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government? They are great, aren't they? Not! Thank you very much. We

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are here because David Cameron has made this an issue on which his

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government will be judged. His words were that money would be no object.

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As Emily Maitlis reports, easier said than done. It has been called

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an almost on map -- unparalleled crisis. Not the kind of language we

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normally used to describe Britain. When you add the hundreds rescued

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from home county Surrey, many more have been told not to step outside

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and you realise this is uncharted water and that means throwing

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whatever you can at it to make it. -- make it better. The first

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question tonight is, the Prime Minister announced that what would

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be no object? Money is no object in this relief effort. That is right,

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money. OK, this time, when asked about future spending, the transport

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Secretary says he does not think it is a blank cheque? That is right,

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the word is blank. Today, a certain degree of confusion about what Terry

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Wogan might once have called the cheque-book and ten. Something

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exploited by the Labour leader in the Commons as he forged the PM to

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address forthcoming redundancies of the Environment Agency. Giving

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yesterday 's promise to make sure we have a resilient country for the

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future and spend whatever it takes, busy committing to reconsidering

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these redundancies and the amount of money we invest in flood defences?

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No clarity on that one from David Cameron but then Labour stands

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accused of making cuts to flood investment when it was in power. No

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political party will pick a fight about money for flood victims at a

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time when the country is in a national emergency to do so -- to do

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so would be suicide. But the heart of these exchanges asks a bigger

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question is how much will political priorities change going forward when

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the watcher receives and the sun comes out? Will still be the same

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financial commitment to making Britain more resilient for the next

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time around? -- watcher receives. These scenes are to familiar in our

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homes. Communities already feeling they could not take any more have

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been tipped over the edge by more rain. There are ways around this but

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at what cost? The Environment Agency talks of a lower tens strategy,

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prevention to cover 21,000 homes. But this option is expensive and

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some ?500 million, a plan for the next century and a relatively short

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span of actual river. That is just the money. We need conviction. Six

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months ago the Conservative Environment Secretary claimed they

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could even be benefits to global warming. He suggested fewer people

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would die of cold in winter, more crops would grow in the North. Food

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for thought for David Cameron, whose slogan once boasted of old blue and

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go green. This represents a strand of the community -- Conservative

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Party which has been to deny that climate change has had a big impact

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on Britain and this will make a lot of people in the Conservative Party

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and others think again. And I think for people like the Lib Dems, who

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have been more consistent in standing up and talking about how we

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must take action. The relief measures or a solid start. If

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?500,000 repair grant for all affected homeowners and businesses.

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100 present business rate relief for three months and three months longer

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to pick as Ms taxes. ?10 million for farmers suffering from waterlogged

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fields and more than ?750 million from major banks to lend financial

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support to businesses and customers affected. But there are still plenty

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of confusion surrounding the future protection of homes and who gets it.

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The legislation currently going through the Lords would take away

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the safety blanket currently offered to small businesses. That is the

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automatic renewal of insurance policies if they are on flood

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events. The new system, it would not extend to anything deemed a

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commercial interest. That means a village pub or a bed and breakfast

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would not get cover. Even if it was your home. Every lifeline thrown

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there are other voices, inevitably complaining that money is not going

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to them. Last week it was historically, this week we are being

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told the country is wealthy again. National optimism might be in short

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supply right now but talk of prosperity can make people bold and

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bold people ask for more. Herbs the PM or at least as Chancellor might

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be wishing he had kept the cheque-book under wraps. With us to

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discuss this is an audience of locals, experts, voices from here

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and beyond and the Defence Secretary. Just before we talk, can

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we hear a couple of voices from the audience. What do you think of the

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way this has been handled so far? It has been handled reasonably well by

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the government, the Environment Agency have handled this very badly.

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In the village, they brought in 200 soldiers and sailors and build a

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sandbag wall up to the wire fence so the water ran around. I do not think

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the Environment Agency has been at all confident. Leaving aside the

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question of the army coming in, which was a recent intervention, up

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to that point, who he was impressed by the way this has been handled?

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Nobody? Hannah, where you impressed? You are not local but you are under

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30? I was impressed with the way the event was forecasted and the

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Environment Agency did an excellent job. That is important, being

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prepared. There are things that need to be adjusted, should this happen

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again. Some people are unhappy here. Phillip Hammond, are you proud of

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the way this has been handled? We can always learn lessons. I think my

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observation is what people in this particular community feel

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particularly aggrieved about is that other communities along the river

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appear to have been treated in a different way and that is something

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we have to understand the reasons for. Is that true? And gentleman

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talked about sandbagging that took place and I am no expert but I am

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told there are a difference is around the topography that make it

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work in some places and not in others. What were the mistakes? In

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the fullness of time we will want to look at how things were done and

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where they could have been done better so we can learn. I cannot sit

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here in the middle of a crisis and say... Yes, you can. You have got

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things in mind. In the fullness of time, we should look at what was

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done, where and we should analyse those decisions. I am being told

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that the reason the work was done in Dachett on Monday and not here was

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simply due to the topography and the practical effect that could be

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delivered. I am not an expert, I cannot validate that statement but

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in time, people who are experts will want to look at these assessments

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and decide if they were right or wrong. Can you help us with some

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other things? Eric Pickles. One day he says that he got bad advice from

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the Environment Agency and the next he says he is full of confidence? Is

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he just forgetting things? The time right now is not the time for

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stirring up fights in different agencies and organisations. We all

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have to pull together. I am worried about Eric Pickles. In due course

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will be a proper time for analysing the advice given and indeed the

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policy positions that were adopted. For example, around dredging. We

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will want to look at those and form a view about whether the advice and

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the policies were right or wrong. I am worried about his recollection,

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that is all. You might be but what I say is that I do not think this is

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the right time to be stirring up disputes in different agencies. He

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is the one who said he got bad advice. The strong message I got

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here was that people wanted all of the agencies to pull together any

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same direction and get things done. Let's look at the question of money.

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The Prime Minister says it is not a problem. Does that mean there is new

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money? It means that in responding to this crisis, we will not allow

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ourselves to be constrained by resources. So the manpower is

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available and the money is available. There will not be any

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thing that is needed that cannot be provided because of money or

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manpower. Where is it coming from? Local authorities will have access

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to 100 present compensation, paid from the Treasury reserve. The

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military forces that have been made available are available to

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commanders and local authorities and the Treasury reserve will pick up

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these costs. We do not want anybody saying we cannot deal with this

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problem, we cannot respond because we do not have enough money or

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manpower. There is enough money? And manpower, to respond to the crisis.

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Clearly, Ed Miliband talking about this in prime ministers questions,

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that does not mean that forever the government will spend any amount of

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money watch in this crisis and in responding... Resources will not be

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the constrained. But this is after the event? The event is very much

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going on now. You will spend this money clearing up an event that in

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many cases could have been... It is important that local authorities and

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the emergency services know that whatever they spend on whether it is

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mature real and equipment or on overtime or whatever they spend,

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they will get reimbursed by the government. They can forget that

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particular issue. Lots of people would like to have a say. Philip,

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let us start with you. I am grateful that Philip came to the village

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yesterday. It seems a very long time ago. And we were lucky that a group

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of concerned residents told us we needed the army. We have been told

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on Sunday that we were going to have floods similar to 1947 and luckily,

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the Flood warden had told us that they had a meeting and we could tell

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residents they had to evacuate houses and for 48 hours, this

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village was on its own and luckily they told us the problem and we have

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the army within three hours. Up to that point, the first rescue service

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we had was the RSPCA! Are you serious? Yes. They were the first

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people here. And they rescued people, as well as animals. But

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since then, the army has turned up en masse. And the Fire Brigade. And

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we have got 100 soldiers in the village. Why are you laughing at the

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mention that the EA turned up? In mass. We had seen one the day

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before. The intervention was too late? Yes. Far too late. Tell us,

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what do you mean? Five weeks' ago, we started our campaign. I was on

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the BBC News five weeks' ago saying we have a problem here, we need

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help. What was the problem you were identifying? We started off with our

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drains filling up which we knew then that the water level in the ground

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was rising and after that happened, four days later the floods came in.

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We've had no main drainage for five-and-a-half weeks now. What's it

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been like trying to live through that? Difficult. Hell. Hell? Why,

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tell me why? Go on? We started off on our own, a small team of six of

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us. Whilst we were picking up on your point about defences in

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Datchit, whilst six to eight volunteers were risking their lives

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because there was no-one supporting our village, you are building a

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sandbag bank with half the military on a dry grass verge in Datchit half

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a mile away. We had no resource whatsoever in our village. That was

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even after we went on to severe flood warning. We had to boar retwo

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-- borrow two boats. Who supplied these plastic boats? Residents. No,

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but... Residents here have done so much. So much. Dave - well, I pass

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over to you - but you have been brilliant. Sue is... These people

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are jolly cross? Yes, there are a couple of things that have come out

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of this. My constituency is in the opposite side of the riverbank, so

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all the problems being talked about here are being experienced on the

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other side of the river. This is not just happened in February. This has

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been going on since January. People who live along the river know and

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understand the way the river works and the way the ground water systems

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work better than anybody. So, yeah, people - we need to listen more

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clearly to the people who live along the river. That's one of the

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mistakes you made? That's one of the consistent messages that comes

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through. The people... The Environment Agency are funding the

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Jubilee River on to a gravel rail embankment and that is the reason

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Datchit floods? People know how the river works. I have known that for

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the 17 years that I have represented the constituency on the other bank.

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That's the first thing. The second thing - I must say this - when I

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came into the village yesterday morning, there were a significant

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number of police in the village, there was a Bronze Command operating

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in the school. It isn't quite true to say that at 8.00am yesterday

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there was nothing here. It may not have been as much as you would like,

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but there were things here yesterday morning, there were police vehicles,

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there were officers, there were Fire Brigade vehicles. Do you not think

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they were here because they knew you were coming here? You cynic! I wish

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I had that power. Go on? One police officer had wellingtons. They are

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not equipped. I have worn these for five weeks and they are very sexy!

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They are! Why am I leading a team for four days without any resources

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waist-deep rescuing pensioners in stupid dinghies, whilst you are

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building a sandbag bank? You shouldn't be. Let me be quite clear

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about this. The military response to requests from the local authorities

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and the emergency services. They are in the lead. That's the way we work

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in this country. We've made military personnel available, military

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equipment available, but we colonel make it available. The civilian lead

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authorities have to ask for it. And have to direct it with the tasks

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that they want. I find it strange that you can predict now what is

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going to happen in seven days' time? Whilst our guys are three-foot deep

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in water rescuing, there was no predictions at all. You should have

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known what was going to happen as our leaders and got the military in

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prior to, instead of risking our lives? We did know what was going to

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happen. So why didn't you respond? We did know. On Saturday morning, I

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was at a residents' meeting talking to people who knew, as you knew, how

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the river was coming up. 32 tonnes, the residents filled. We knew it was

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going to happen. Dave told us. We transported on Saturday morning

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32,000 kilos of sand from a trading estate in Transit vans to a margin

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point and we had volunteers with cones and shovels making sandbags

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for a whole day. The point I want to make - please don't point the finger

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at the military. They were there and ready to go. I have not heard a

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single person criticise the military. They have to be asked for

:20:17.:20:21.

by the civil authorities. I'm pointing the finger at the lady

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three rows back. Off you go. Thank you. I live on the opposite side of

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the river. Wraysbury have been brilliant. The flood wardens in

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Wraysbury have rung me every day because I am volunteer flood warden

:20:36.:20:40.

on the island and I have been volunteer flood warden with my

:20:41.:20:44.

husband, who is in hospital, during the whole of this operation. We have

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not received the help, Mr Hammond, I'm afraid to say. We need the help.

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We had the Secretary of State for the Environment visit us today. By

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the end of today, I was promised the military, I was promised sandbags, I

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was promised portaloos. We have had nothing! I was promised those by the

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end of the day. Why have we not received what I was promised earlier

:21:16.:21:21.

on today? OK. I have had to evacuate myself from my house. Everybody has

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been brilliant on the island, they have worked very well. Please could

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you answer? Let him answer the question. I can't answer a specific

:21:32.:21:35.

question. We have a command structure, there is a Bronze

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Commander, a Silver Commander, a Gold Commander. If you have been

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promised something, it should have been delivered. As I did yesterday,

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I can take down your individual concern, I can look at it, but I

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can't answer the question here because that's for the local

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commanders to answer. Let's broaden this now into another area. No-one

:21:56.:22:00.

with a bit of humanity would fail to sympathise with people whose houses

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have been inundated. But there is another perspective. Among

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harder-hearted observers of this week's events the question remains:

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why be surprised if you live on a floodplain and it floods? Jim Reed

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reports. March 1947 and a reminder this is

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not the first time this has happened. Thousands lost their homes

:22:24.:22:27.

in the great Thames flood. There were calls back then for the

:22:28.:22:32.

Government to stop this ever happening again. 65 years on,

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hundreds have again been moved out of houses in the Thames valley.

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Troops are now on the ground in significant numbers. Thoughts are

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now turning to the future and once again, questions are being asked

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about building on floodplains like this. Priory Road, to the west of

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Wraysbury, has seen some of the worst flooding. Sue and her husband

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live at the end of the street. Here, 4X4s and fire engines are still

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being turned back. It is waist height. If you are trying to get to

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Priory Road, you will probably be alright in this. That vehicle there

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is absolutely no good to people where we are further down on the

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island. So, the people living here are having to make do to get around.

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Boats and canoes are the main form of transport in some parts of

:23:33.:23:36.

Wraysbury. The floodwater here is at least three or four feet deep. In

:23:37.:23:40.

some places, even deeper. What you notice here when you travel past is

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how some houses have escaped almost unscathed, others that are perhaps

:23:46.:23:49.

less well designed have seen the floodwaters pour in. The head of the

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organisation which monitors flood levels called today for more homes

:23:55.:23:58.

to be built like this one, on stilts with the ground floor used as a

:23:59.:24:02.

garage. Often, though, in areas like this, that hasn't happened. That's

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flooded. It looks like steps there. At the back, they are not as high.

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You will be able to see how a river house is and how dry we are inside.

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You wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Sue's home was lifted from the

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water on stilts with specialised concrete foundations to prevent

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subsidence. You can't complain about that. No water here at all. This

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house is completely dry? This house will never be flooded. I can't see a

:24:29.:24:32.

time when we would have water into the house. It's built so high. It's

:24:33.:24:40.

built a metre-and-a-half higher than the '47 flood. She walked us outside

:24:41.:24:44.

to see how her neighbours were getting on. That's - the lady has

:24:45.:24:48.

had to move out. She lives on her own. Although the water is not in,

:24:49.:24:57.

the electric meter is very low down. We have to build on floodplains.

:24:58.:25:00.

There is a shortage of housing in this area. If they built them like a

:25:01.:25:05.

river house, like this, there is not a great problem because it's not

:25:06.:25:09.

taking up much space. It is built on stilts, it is only taking up a few

:25:10.:25:14.

square yards of space. You don't concrete underneath, gravel

:25:15.:25:18.

underneath, don't concrete your drives, gravel them and that

:25:19.:25:22.

minimises the environmental effect. Why then is it still easy to find

:25:23.:25:27.

new-build houses in this area with no real protection from the river?

:25:28.:25:32.

This evening, there are still 14 severe flood warnings along the

:25:33.:25:36.

Thames alone. With more bad weather forecast, the Environment Agency is

:25:37.:25:40.

warning levels could rise again, possibly rivalling these scenes from

:25:41.:25:46.

1947, the worst British floods of the 20th Century. Colin, you are an

:25:47.:25:56.

academic authority on this subject. What do we need to learn about

:25:57.:26:01.

living on floodplains? Well, I agree with the earlier speaker,

:26:02.:26:05.

floodplains are quite good places to live, 90%, or 99% of the time. There

:26:06.:26:11.

is a risk that you will be flooded if you live there. That is why we

:26:12.:26:15.

need the things that only Government can do and local authorities can do

:26:16.:26:20.

and even flood wardens can do. But there are some things that only

:26:21.:26:24.

individual homeowners can do as well to reduce their own risk. This is

:26:25.:26:29.

quite a Tory theme, isn't it, people taking responsibility for their own

:26:30.:26:35.

lives? There are layers here, as the gentleman said. There are some

:26:36.:26:38.

things that only Government can do, the delivery of major flood

:26:39.:26:43.

alleviation schemes and on this part of the Thames, we are waiting for a

:26:44.:26:48.

big flood alleviation scheme which has been in many years in the

:26:49.:26:52.

planning and we hope will be delivered over the next few years.

:26:53.:26:56.

There are also things that individuals can do around their own

:26:57.:27:02.

properties and when it comes to responding to the inevitability of

:27:03.:27:06.

there being from time to time flood events, it is a mixture of community

:27:07.:27:13.

- communities working together, statutory authorities, central

:27:14.:27:16.

government, all of these things have to work together and one of the

:27:17.:27:20.

things we have to do from this experience is analyse where we have

:27:21.:27:23.

done that well and where we haven't done it so well and make sure we

:27:24.:27:26.

make the system more resilient. These things do seem to be happening

:27:27.:27:29.

more often. We do have somebody here with very particular experience of

:27:30.:27:32.

living in a very wet environment. You are the Vice Mayor of Rotterdam.

:27:33.:27:39.

90% of Rotterdam is below sea-level. What is your advice? Well,

:27:40.:27:46.

basically, we have seen that we experience worst weather in the last

:27:47.:27:49.

few times, so climate change is really happening to our cities

:27:50.:27:53.

and... We will come to climate change in a minute or two. But

:27:54.:27:57.

specifically the engineering and property ideas that you have put

:27:58.:28:00.

into place there to protect yourselves against flooding?

:28:01.:28:04.

Basically, we are trying to learn to live more with water than to fight

:28:05.:28:08.

it and the things that we do is - for instance, we create more green

:28:09.:28:12.

areas into cities so the city can work more as a sponge, it can take

:28:13.:28:17.

on the rain and it can keep it longer so it don't flood into the

:28:18.:28:21.

sewage system or into the river. We build floating buildings and

:28:22.:28:28.

buildings that are based on poles... This sounds pretty costly? It

:28:29.:28:32.

doesn't have to be costly. We try to mix and combine functions. We have a

:28:33.:28:38.

large storage facility that is a rowing course, or we have storage

:28:39.:28:42.

facilities inside the cities that are also squares. We have buildings

:28:43.:28:47.

with green roofs so we combine functions and we try to capture

:28:48.:28:52.

water in green roofs, in storage facilities and we create room for

:28:53.:28:56.

the river. And that means that in some areas, you have to be very

:28:57.:29:01.

specific about urban planning and not build there or only build there

:29:02.:29:05.

when you have the specific measurements that we talked about

:29:06.:29:09.

earlier on. And make sure the house is going to float, or stand on poles

:29:10.:29:14.

and if you do that into the planning system, if you do that early on, it

:29:15.:29:19.

doesn't need to be very costly. You need to plan ahead and do that for

:29:20.:29:25.

50, 100 years ahead to make sure that you take the right decision.

:29:26.:29:33.

This community has existed for hundreds of years and frankly has

:29:34.:29:37.

got accustomed to flooding over hundreds of years. That is fair

:29:38.:29:43.

enough? Your grandfather and father were both flood wardens? This is not

:29:44.:29:48.

a new experience? How much does anybody who lives here except this

:29:49.:29:54.

is a matter of personal responsibility if you choose to live

:29:55.:30:01.

on a flood plain? The EA used to dredge the river, which therefore

:30:02.:30:05.

gives the river more capacity to take more water and you have not

:30:06.:30:11.

done that. As far as I am aware, the dredging was sold in 2002 and we

:30:12.:30:21.

flooded in 2003. Human incompetence, the Environment Agency stopped that

:30:22.:30:25.

system working. Someone else's fault again? I have been advised that you

:30:26.:30:35.

tried to hire the dredger back in 2003 to find it had been sold for

:30:36.:30:39.

scrap. You have done nothing since, you have not fired another dredger

:30:40.:30:47.

for the river. We have gone from 2003 and we have flooded in January

:30:48.:30:54.

last month and again this month. It has not in dredge in 12 years. I do

:30:55.:31:00.

not attend to be an expert but over the years I have represented... It

:31:01.:31:06.

is clear that different solutions are different for -- right for a

:31:07.:31:11.

different environments so what is right for the Somerset Levels is not

:31:12.:31:15.

necessarily right here. Does dredging always work? No, it is not

:31:16.:31:21.

necessarily the solution we need in most cases. It can speed up the

:31:22.:31:25.

river flow and cause banks to collapse. My understanding is that

:31:26.:31:34.

on this part of the Thames, because we have engineered structures, the

:31:35.:31:38.

rate of the river is determined more by them than the bottom topography

:31:39.:31:43.

so dredging would create more storage capacity because you are

:31:44.:31:48.

taking the cherry from the river but it would not create a faster flow

:31:49.:31:51.

and we must remember what we are talking about. In full flow, this is

:31:52.:31:57.

400 tonnes of water every second coming down. You could dig a very

:31:58.:32:02.

big hole but it will not take long to fill. Dredging cannot be the

:32:03.:32:10.

whole solution because you were destroyed the ambience and beauty of

:32:11.:32:13.

the river, one of the most attractive reasons for living here.

:32:14.:32:19.

You have to do this carefully. Another area is what happens when is

:32:20.:32:24.

a flood and all of the insurance implications of her? Currently,

:32:25.:32:31.

there is an agreement with government covering small businesses

:32:32.:32:33.

for flood insurance but that is going and in the Lords there is new

:32:34.:32:39.

legislation which excludes small businesses so this pub would have no

:32:40.:32:42.

guarantees. We think this is a retrograde step. The British

:32:43.:32:49.

insurance brokers and the Federation of Small Businesses and the property

:32:50.:32:51.

Federation and the national flood forum, we are concerned and we want

:32:52.:32:55.

to know that the government will look to a solution in place for

:32:56.:33:00.

small businesses as well. But let us be clear why we are in this

:33:01.:33:06.

position. Insurers are not prepared to continue with the scheme that has

:33:07.:33:10.

existed which is why the government had to negotiate a new solution with

:33:11.:33:13.

insurers and the reason they were not prepared to continue is because

:33:14.:33:19.

of what they saw as cherry picking with some insurers being prepared to

:33:20.:33:24.

ensure high risk properties and other, typically newer, entrants to

:33:25.:33:29.

the market only picking lower risk. So the solution that the government

:33:30.:33:33.

has come up with in conjunction with insurers is a levy system that will

:33:34.:33:39.

allow property owners to get access to reasonably priced flood

:33:40.:33:44.

insurance, which is effectively supported by a small levy on the

:33:45.:33:52.

insurance premiums on lower risk properties. That is a process that

:33:53.:33:56.

is underway but it has not happened because the government decided one

:33:57.:34:00.

morning to do things differently, it was because the insurance companies

:34:01.:34:04.

decided there were not prepared to carry on with the system that had

:34:05.:34:08.

operated in the past. When you have got massive wadis saying, one in

:34:09.:34:14.

five businesses are in danger, there does need to be more conversations

:34:15.:34:17.

with the industry about getting a solution in place. This is entirely

:34:18.:34:25.

your fault? We are talking with insurers to get specialist schemes

:34:26.:34:29.

in place but when they guarantee is taken away, but as our concern. You

:34:30.:34:35.

want to be feather-bedded by the government? At the moment, to create

:34:36.:34:41.

a solution for homes, you have to charge a levy and we think they

:34:42.:34:48.

should be a similar system for small businesses where they will make

:34:49.:34:51.

small contributions to help those few that cannot access affordable

:34:52.:34:56.

cover. I want to move onto another that has been mentioned by our guest

:34:57.:35:02.

from Rotterdam. As we saw earlier, this is not the first time this

:35:03.:35:04.

village has been flooded, even in living memory. But the rainfall the

:35:05.:35:08.

last few weeks has been extraordinarily high. The suggestion

:35:09.:35:13.

is it may be to do with climate change. If that's so, we'd better

:35:14.:35:17.

get used to this sort of event. Nick Milller is a meteorologist and so

:35:18.:35:20.

ought to know what he's talking about. We will start to see the rain

:35:21.:35:25.

intensified. The wind will ease down. Lots of showers. Wetter

:35:26.:35:32.

conditions... If it seems the forecast from the Weather Centre is

:35:33.:35:37.

stuck on repeat, it is because the weather so far has been singing one

:35:38.:35:43.

train - wet and windy. The product of a very active jet stream driving

:35:44.:35:46.

deeper areas of low pressure across the Atlantic. One after another.

:35:47.:35:52.

Here comes another. If it seems hard to remember a time when the weather

:35:53.:35:55.

was not like this, it shows how quickly we forget. This time last

:35:56.:36:00.

year a prolonged spell of easterly winds were about to produce our

:36:01.:36:05.

coldest is bring in 50 years and at the start of 2012 the displaced jet

:36:06.:36:09.

stream was blamed as we stared down the barrel of the worst drought

:36:10.:36:13.

since 1976. All very different weather patterns with a common link

:36:14.:36:19.

- each persisted for many months. The Met Office has published an

:36:20.:36:23.

analysis of our stormy winter and says it raises the possibility that

:36:24.:36:25.

disruption of the usual weather pattern might be how climate change

:36:26.:36:32.

may manifest itself, an area that it is actively researching. And it is

:36:33.:36:36.

not just the frequency of storms that is notable but how much rain

:36:37.:36:39.

they have produced and the Met Office says there is emerging

:36:40.:36:46.

evidence that over the year, events might be more frequent. This graph

:36:47.:36:52.

shows that what in the 1960s and 1970s might have been a one in every

:36:53.:36:58.

125 day event is more likely one in 85 days. It is basic physics of warm

:36:59.:37:02.

air contains more water, translating into more rain. What confuses this

:37:03.:37:08.

is something we all know deep down - the Great British weather is

:37:09.:37:12.

incredibly variable. The same weather records were used to compare

:37:13.:37:16.

wet winters will show as many dry winters also. Our weather can and

:37:17.:37:20.

often does go from one extreme to another. Conclusions for the long

:37:21.:37:26.

term from one season of storms are, the Met Office says, impossible to

:37:27.:37:30.

make and even if the weather is changing, attributing that to

:37:31.:37:34.

man-made climate change is even more challenging.

:37:35.:37:41.

To discuss the role of climate change in all this and how we tackle

:37:42.:37:45.

it, I'm joined by the former Government Chief Scientist, who

:37:46.:37:47.

advises the Government on climate change, Sir David King. And the Vice

:37:48.:37:51.

Mayor of Rotterdam, Alexandra van Huffelen. Are you surprised by these

:37:52.:37:58.

floods? I am surprised, it has happened earlier than I would have

:37:59.:38:03.

expected. In the sense that we put in a report to the government in

:38:04.:38:08.

2004 on flood and coastal defence and in that report we used the best

:38:09.:38:15.

that science could reduce to anticipate what the challenges would

:38:16.:38:18.

be for the British Isles. The biggest challenge from climate

:38:19.:38:24.

change is flooding. So we set out in some detail, this was an enormous

:38:25.:38:30.

piece of work, and the net result was that we said that within 20

:38:31.:38:33.

years, this sort of thing would be happening. Yes, it is all happening

:38:34.:38:40.

more frequently. It was predicted that the timescale has collapsed? So

:38:41.:38:44.

we're going to have to get used to more of this? As far as we can tell?

:38:45.:38:49.

I believe there is going to be more of this, that is right. And what

:38:50.:38:55.

this means is that the flood defences plan, which became an act

:38:56.:39:01.

in 2010, needs to be continued to be rolled out. Have government 's this

:39:02.:39:08.

and to this research? -- governments. Yes. And while it is

:39:09.:39:14.

very important to listen to people suffering from flooding, what we are

:39:15.:39:19.

not hearing from is the people who have not suffered from flooding. For

:39:20.:39:27.

example, in the last ten weeks, the Thames Barrier has been closed 29 is

:39:28.:39:37.

-- times. This is exceptional. That is one fifth of the usage of the

:39:38.:39:42.

barrier since 1983. This is a very exceptional time. London has not

:39:43.:39:48.

suffered in the way that these villages are suffering. We must not

:39:49.:39:54.

forget that there are areas of Britain that have been managed

:39:55.:39:58.

through this crisis. What lessons should be learned if the environment

:39:59.:40:04.

is changing in the way that authorities suggest? We have seen

:40:05.:40:09.

this and other parts of Europe, we have seen at last in Germany and so

:40:10.:40:17.

on. What is coming from four sides, down the river, because of higher

:40:18.:40:22.

sea levels, more extreme rainfall and ground water issues. What you

:40:23.:40:27.

need to do is really find alternative ways to tackle these

:40:28.:40:32.

issues. We used to build dams and dikes to protect ourselves but we

:40:33.:40:38.

are seeing more novel ways. We need to live with water rather than fight

:40:39.:40:42.

it and one of those things is getting rivers more room and you can

:40:43.:40:47.

do that with dredging but you can literally give them more room. You

:40:48.:40:51.

need to find more ways to store watcher and you need more green

:40:52.:40:55.

areas outside cities but also inside cities where we can store water.

:40:56.:41:00.

What does this sound like to you, who has been suffering? I looked to

:41:01.:41:11.

the Norfolk area and irrelevance is that the sea defences programme

:41:12.:41:15.

there in certain areas along the coastline, areas are allowed to

:41:16.:41:22.

flood and houses have been lost. Are we saying that certain areas of

:41:23.:41:27.

Berkshire will be allowed to flood along the River? Because at the

:41:28.:41:32.

moment, the way the government has reacted, information from these

:41:33.:41:34.

experts means nothing is happening -- happening in Datchit or in

:41:35.:41:41.

Wraysbury. We knew that the flood was coming and on Tuesday the army

:41:42.:41:49.

arrived and they build one wall with cameras rolling. Was this a PR

:41:50.:41:54.

exercise? Why did they not just dump trailers into the residents and say,

:41:55.:42:02.

lock up your area? We have had do this for ourselves and we will do

:42:03.:42:10.

that. These two guys are making a bigger point about national and

:42:11.:42:14.

international management. There are going to be places that will come

:42:15.:42:20.

out of that less well than others. It is joined up thinking, I

:42:21.:42:26.

represent Marlow and we had this if you days before Wraysbury but we

:42:27.:42:30.

were able to predict the search coming down that would hit us three

:42:31.:42:36.

days later and we were quite prepared and when the army turned up

:42:37.:42:41.

today, we hadn't use for them. If we add a local level can predict those

:42:42.:42:45.

floods coming and take our own defences, then why can the

:42:46.:42:48.

government not take advice from a report and from locals, they know

:42:49.:42:53.

that this is not a shock to anybody, it seems to be a shock to the

:42:54.:42:58.

government. We know it is coming, your experts know, everybody knows

:42:59.:43:08.

it is coming, except the government. To be fair... You said the

:43:09.:43:14.

government did take your report seriously? Did they spend the money

:43:15.:43:21.

you anticipated? The amount of money spent depends on the amount of money

:43:22.:43:25.

that can be apportioned to this particular problem. By which I mean,

:43:26.:43:30.

I am not the person sitting in the Treasury saying this amount on the

:43:31.:43:35.

health service... That is a rather the logical argument. You have

:43:36.:43:40.

investigated this matter at some length and in some detail and you

:43:41.:43:43.

conclude that action needs to be taken. My question was, how they

:43:44.:43:47.

spent the money they should have? Our report said in 2004... Yes or

:43:48.:44:01.

no? ! Our report said that we must spend an additional sum of money

:44:02.:44:03.

each year, adding to that sum of money. Has that happened? It

:44:04.:44:09.

happened until the financial crisis. So it is not happening as Mac it has

:44:10.:44:20.

stopped? -- it is not happening, it has stopped? We are the sacrificial

:44:21.:44:28.

lambs for the likes of London and Maidenhead. We are all very

:44:29.:44:33.

concerned about a very particular part of Britain. John, you had

:44:34.:44:41.

flooding quite recently? Yes, that was a tidal surge, not rainfall. The

:44:42.:44:49.

point is? It was a different type of flooding. It was a tidal surge up

:44:50.:44:55.

the River Humber. That caused it. Did you see the Prime Minister and

:44:56.:44:57.

the leader of the opposition tramping around in the middle of

:44:58.:45:04.

this? We did not but this is an ever-growing event. And therefore,

:45:05.:45:07.

it is becoming quite a national disaster. And quite naturally,

:45:08.:45:12.

politicians have come along, as the disaster has grown. As a matter of

:45:13.:45:19.

interest... The local MPs were there. They were there on site and

:45:20.:45:27.

they would be giving the reports to the Government. Just so we know

:45:28.:45:32.

where we all are, are we going to see this event happening again and

:45:33.:45:37.

again with increasing frequency? You have heard some doom-laden things.

:45:38.:45:44.

Put your hand up, come on. You are all very fatalistic then! Yes.

:45:45.:45:50.

Anyone going to move house and leave the area? Who is going to buy our

:45:51.:45:57.

houses? Jeremy, can I say that the Minister did say we are going to

:45:58.:46:02.

listen to the local people. I don't wish to be unkind - seriously, I

:46:03.:46:08.

don't wish to be unkind - but I don't believe him. We will see. We

:46:09.:46:13.

have written to every Minister that's been involved with flooding

:46:14.:46:18.

pleading, "Please come and see us because we are not satisfied with

:46:19.:46:21.

what is happening. If you won't come, will you send a drainage

:46:22.:46:26.

engineer to come?" Has he turned up yet? No. Thank you all very much.

:46:27.:46:36.

OK. In 2003, we flooded. Our sewers were under water. Our substations

:46:37.:46:40.

went under water. They said they would build them above water. He

:46:41.:46:46.

said only 20 minutes ago we will learn. They had 2003 to learn from.

:46:47.:46:52.

They had not lifted the substations or the sewers for the last four

:46:53.:46:55.

weeks. We have been walking... I'm going to have to cut you off. We are

:46:56.:46:59.

out of time now. That's it for tonight from Wraysbury. Until

:47:00.:47:02.

tomorrow night, good night.

:47:03.:47:05.

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