On 14th January 2016 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, led a short debate in the House of Lords on flood management. His speech and the Government response is below. The full text of the debate, including a speech by the Bishop of St Albans, can be read here.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to review their long term strategy for flood management, particularly in rural areas that do not qualify for large-scale flood defences.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to put to the Government the Question before us. If there was a sound track to this debate it would probably include Phil Collins’s “In Too Deep”.
It is important to note the destructiveness of the recent flooding, given that the news agenda moves on very quickly and communities which found themselves at the heart of a sympathetic nation quickly feel themselves to be forgotten. For some of the communities in my diocese, the recent floods come in the wake—almost literally—of other occurrences in recent years. For them the need for longer-term and more joined-up measures is obvious.
I pay tribute to civic leaders, emergency services, public service workers, members of the Armed Forces, the Environment Agency and local volunteers, many of whom sacrificed holidays and family time over Christmas to support victims of this appallingly destructive flooding. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds leads debate on national response to flooding”
On 14th January 2016 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, led a short debate in the House of Lords on flood management. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, also spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank my right reverend colleague for today’s debate. Due to the shortage of time, straightaway I shall focus a little more on whole-catchment flood management. A renewed focus on this approach has been one of the notable outcomes of the current flood crisis, helped of course by the exemplary work of the Pickering slow-the-flow scheme, which the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, described so eloquently.
The potential of whole-catchment approaches—for example, using meandering rivers, planting trees and building permeable dams to slow water in upland areas and reduce peak flow further downstream—is enormous. In the long term, it provides a cheaper, more environmentally friendly method of flood management, which works, as a number of people have already said, with natural processes rather than constantly trying to hold back the tide. Such approaches also have the benefit of being effective across a catchment, rather than simply focusing on one or two high-value areas, and so can help to lower the flood risk in rural hamlets and villages that might otherwise not qualify for flood protection. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans suggests new approaches to flood management”
On Wednesday 13th January 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, answered two written questions about support from churches in the Blackburn Diocese to flood victims and the damage to churches in the diocese caused by floods.
Mr Mark Hendrick: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which Anglican churches within the Diocese of Blackburn were damaged by flooding in December 2015; and what the extent of damage to each such church was.
Mrs Caroline Spelman: Within the Diocese of Blackburn seven churches and churchyards, the diocesan retreat house at Whalley Abbey and three Church of England primary schools were damaged by floodwater. Many have also found that the boilers and heating systems have been damaged beyond repair and extensive programmes of works will need to be undertaken to both dry the buildings out and restore or replace furniture, carpets and school materials.
Reports of damage are still being registered across the Dioceses of Blackburn, Carlisle, Manchester, West Yorkshire and the Dales and York. To date 129 church properties have registered substantial damage from the December storms with our insurers, though I expect that figure to rise. The Cathedral and Church Buildings Council of the Church of England will be working with the dioceses to develop robust disaster management and recovery plans and flood adaptation measures for churches and other buildings. Continue reading “Church Commissioner question on flooding in Blackburn”
On 9th December 2015 Lord Grantchester asked Her Majesty’s Government “what emergency measures they are considering to support the emergency services and local communities affected by flooding in Cumbria.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, what cognisance is taken by the Government of the stochastic modelling performed by the insurance industry and how many one-in-100-years events it takes for something to cease to be a one-in-100-years event?
Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I am sure that the right reverend Prelate will appreciate that this is probably a matter for God because every time that we have tried to predict, an even worse event has occurred. I do not make that point lightly. We are constantly reviewing the flood defences and how we can respond.
The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to improve flood defences in agricultural areas.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans:
My Lords, the noble Lord will be only too aware of the huge contribution that British agriculture makes to food security. Could he therefore tell us what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made concerning the risk to food security due to poorly planned flooding amelioration and prevention schemes, which are allowing considerable areas of high-grade agricultural land to be taken out of production due to flooding?
Lord De Mauley:
I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for coming to see me the other day to talk about these things. There is currently no evidence that flood events such as those experienced in 2007, 2009 or 2012—or, so far, in recent events—represent a threat to food security in the United Kingdom. According to the UK food security assessment, the UK enjoys a high level of food security as a developed, stable economy. I think it is more likely that disruption to transport links could impact access to food supplies, but we are watching this carefully.
On 25th February 2014, Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered a written question from Anne McIntosh on floods.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what work the Church Commissioners are undertaking to support flooded communities and farmers.
Sir Tony Baldry: Following my comments to the House on 13 February 2014, Official Report, column 1010, the Church Urban Fund have launched a ‘Flood Appeal Fund’. This follows highly successful funds set up in 2000 and the year 2007 where the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England co-ordinated the collection of money to help support flood victims and businesses. Continue reading “Floods – Church Commissioners’ Written Answer”