It Never Rains But It Pours

doctor_foster17:47 Monday 4th March 2013
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: The Environment Agency is urging the Government to do more to prepare for extreme weather, in the wake of figures showing there was flooding in one day of every five in 2012, but also drought in one day in every four. Lord Smith is warning that Britain needs to prepare and adapt to avoid flooding and drought disrupting daily life. He says better protection is needed for homes and businesses. The report highlights how rivers such as the Ouse, the Tyne and Tone went from their lowest to their highest levels since records began, in the space of just four months. Craig Woolhouse is from the Environment Agency. (TAPE)
CRAIG WOOLHOUSE: Well we saw last year that total contrast between drought in the first three months, when many people had restrictions on their water use, through to over 8,000 homes being flooded through a sequence of flood events in the last nine months of the year, right across England and Wales. So a real contrast, and almost half last year were either drought or flood. So if that’s the future model that we’ve got to think about, then we’ve got to prepare better to cope with those variations in our climate, and be ready to live with that. We can build flood defences to help protect homes and businesses, protect agricultural land, and we can provide storage reservoirs so we’ve got enough water during drought. But I think it’s going to take all of us to shift our thinking to cope with the changing climate over the next ten, twenty, thirty years.
CHRIS MANN: Well the Environment Agency, you in fact, are tasked with preparing us and looking after us when these things happen. As you said there was flooding but there was also drought. Were you taken unawares by what was coming up?
CRAIG WOOLHOUSE: I think everyone has been surprised by the real shift from drought to flood last year. It’s something we haven’t experienced in the last hundred years of record. It has been quite unprecedented, that shift from very low flows in rivers to very high flows, some of the highest on record, some of the lowest on record. So that has been a surprise. I think the floods, we’ve seen 8,000 homes flooded, but we’ve also had the benefit of the 200,000 homes protected through the flood defences we’ve built. (LIVE)
CHRIS MANN: Craig Woolhouse there, from the Environment Agency.