Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Feedback: 1. Water

Barry Molyneaux has left comments on two earlier posts, but I'm responding here because I want to make the discussion more visible. Firstly on water and Barbara Young.

Barry said, "Who is Barbara Young and why do you think she is in a position to know? And why do you not see that it is a disgrace to be making an excuse that the flooding was caused by climate change and hence was not in anyway something for which the EA was responsible. Well the rainfall was unexpectedly severe and this is due to climate change but the flooding was severe because of building in flood plains, inadequate flood defence, built in most cases to withstand nothing more than a 1 in 50 flood. There is no programme of flood prevention nor of sea defences. That is the responsibility of the Environment Agency and they have failed. And all we get is excuses from Barbara Young. The time is overdue, axe the EA, send Barbara Young off to do whatever it is that she is qualified to do, which is what exactly? and bring the functions of the EA under a directly elected Regional Assembly and fund it properly. If you want to be founder member of the Barbara Young society forget it."

Well, Barry, perhaps it is naive to think that the Head of the Environment Agency would know anything about flooding, but I don't think so. My point was to emphasise the need for politicians to take the opportunity to remind people about climate change, not to defend the shortcomings of the government or the agency. I have met Barbara Young when she ran RSPB. She seemed a professional and efficient manager with no special expertise in environment matters but quite close to the New Labour camp. My criticism of the EA wouldn't be to do with personalities but with the agency's dependence on central government. I like your idea of putting some of their functions under elected regional control, but we might need an independent, national voice that could scrutinise and recommend free from the control of those who run the relevant services.


Barry Molyneaux said...

Thanks for clarifying. You claim that Baroness Young is a good manager, in your opinion, having previously headed a bird charity. You hint delicately that she got her post as head of the EA (and her peerage perhaps?) as she is friend of New Labour. Not reassuring is it given the enormity of the problems that climate change will bring in the very near future. We don't need smartypants managers - we need people who know what they are talking about. I was moved to make my original post because it seemed to me that Lady Young in stating that the flooding was caused by climate change was using this as an excuse for her agency's shortcomings, rather than understanding that the unprecedented rainfall was caused by climate change but the flooding was - in part at the very least - entirely preventable. It seemed to me that she hadn't quite caught on to what her agency should be doing in response.

dreamingspire said...

My source of information about Lady Young has only been her radio and TV exposure, and she was not impressive. The cult of the general purpose manager who can manage anything was in vogue some 20 or 30 years ago and was as bogus then as it is now. With evidence of EA mistakes in areas not far from where I live, its even more certain that she is not doing the right job.