Name: Lord Smith
Number: Well, his number’s up.
Or his number should be up if the BBC were doing its job properly and fully investigating Lord Smith’s role as Chair of the Environment Agency and its policies.
Lord Smith has made two statements today which can unequivocably be called lies….about issues that go right to the heart of the flooding in the Somerset Levels.
This morning on the Today programme Evan Davis asked Lord Smith about an Environment Agency flood management plan from 2008 which stated that it was a policy to allow the Somerset Levels to flood, to encourage it to flood in fact so that other areas would have less flooding.
Lord Smith stated that there were no such plans….the document was an old document that he had never seen.
He repeated all this in this video:
The problem with all that is that in 2012, when Lord Smith was in position, there is this flood management plan for the Somerset Levels from the Environment Agency:
Somerset Levels and Moors
The vision and preferred policy
Policy Option 6- We will take action with others to store water or manage runoff in locations that provide overall flood risk reduction or environmental benefits. By adopting this policy and redistributing water some areas will be subject to increased flooding while others will benefit from reduced flooding. The aim is to achieve a net overall benefit. The distribution of floodwater between moors can be determined to some extent by the use of sluices and other structures on the rivers
The distribution of floodwater has developed to some extent by historical ‘accident’ rather than design. When considering the distribution of assets across the sub-area it makes sense to direct water to areas which have limited assets at risk. By redistributing floodwater, primarily from upstream of Langport to the King’s Sedgemoor Drain, the overall damage and disruption from flooding would be reduced. Other redistribution options may also be possible, although modelling has shown that technically not all options are feasible.
So either Smith is incompetent or a liar.
Question for the Biased BBC website is why the BBC only chose the 2008 document which allowed Smith to deny all knowledge and brush off all accusations that he was to blame for the flooding in the Somerset levels…or at least for exacerbating the flooding by having a clear policy for using the area as a storage area for flood water.
The 2012 document proves it was policy at a time when he was at the helm.
Smith even admitted to prioritising certain areas...which means allowing others to flood:
He [Smith] also insisted that the agency was right to focus on homes rather than agricultural land. “Lives and people’s homes have to come first,” he said.
So clearly he knew of the policy and agreed with it.
As for ‘politicisation’, Pickles blamed the government and the Environment Agency not Labour……it is Labour politicising the issues….with the BBC cheering things on.
The second lie?
Eric Pickles stated that the Environment Agency gave the government the wrong advice about dredging…and that he now believes they should have dredged….so clearly the advice was not to dredge.
Lord Smith said, in the video above, ‘He is wrong’.….Smith then diverts and tries to blame lack of money.
But was Pickles wrong? What advice did the Environment Agency give about dredging?
Could it have been something like this from August 2013?
To me that advice is saying dredging has too many downsides and should be used sparingly and only in very certain circumstances.
Dredging rivers not full answer to flooding – Environment Agency
Draining Somerset’s Tone and Parrett rivers would only make a ‘small difference’, says chairman Lord Smith
Smith claims he could only spend £400,000 on dredging and yet his agency says in 2011:
The Environment Agency routinely considers dredging and other types of watercourse management, such as de-silting and vegetation removal, to reduce flood risk. We spend over £20 million per year on dredging, de-silting, removing gravel and obstructions along with weed control to clear channels. As with all our work, it has to be prioritised and justified technically, environmentally and economically.
Clearly there must be prioritisation of spending….is the BBC asking that question? No.
The report goes on…….
Some people and organisations are concerned that we do not do enough dredging and watercourse maintenance. In response to this, and to test our understanding of the evidence, we arranged pilot studies in our South West, Thames and North East Regions. The aim of the studies was to confirm to what extent watercourse maintenance or dredging would reduce the likelihood or severity of floods.
What we have learned
Work at the pilot sites showed that the maintenance work reduced flood risk locally. But in some areas the maintenance work was not cost effective – the flood risk benefit of the work did not justify the expenditure. We had to consider the whole catchment (that is, the whole river system) including the purpose of any watercourses in the catchment. Each pilot site was different and decisions have to be made on a case-by-case basis, using evidence and engineering knowledge to make judgements. Working with local communities to discuss the work and agree if it is the best flood risk management measure for them was beneficial.
So is the decision the government’s or the Environment Agency’s not to spend money, to prioritise how it is spent, on dredging or not? From that it looks like the Environment Agency made the call….so is Smith misleading us again?
Another question for the BBC to ask…but hasn’t.
Kind of crucial in the current highly political argument.
Environment Agency bosses spent £2.4million on PR… but refused £1.7million dredging of key Somerset rivers that could have stopped flooding
As said Smith was allowed to brush aside questions about the flood management plan and he launched his own defence, claiming that it was all the government’s fault for not allowing him enough money.
Well you can see from the 2011 report above that prioritisation of how funding is spent is down to the Environment Agency….and they spent over £20 million/year on dredging and channel clearance….however all day the BBC has been pumping out Smith’s excuses that he should have been demanding more money for dredging.
From that we are to suppose he was always in favour of dredging and that the only thing stopping him was lack of funds?
Clearly that is a lie.
So Smith’s defences are:
1. I didn’t know anything, it wasn’t me.
2. It was the government, they didn’t give me any money.
3. It was my staff’s fault but I won’t let anyone blame them…no sirree bob!
And you know what the BBC has swallowed that hook, line and sinker…anyone would think there was an election coming.
Here is Harrabin failing to do journalistic due diligence:
Why has Harrabin got an unnamed ‘mole’ at the Environment Agency when a look at its website gives you the flood plans?
The BBC doesn’t seem too interested in challenging Smith’s claims….and seem more interested in reporting his comments and others from the Labour Party that point the finger of blame at the Government as a whole rather than the Environment Agency in particular whose responsibility this all is.
Another question the BBC might like to answer…is dredging the answer for the Somerset Levels?
The Levels are not like a normal river area….the fact they can remain above water for much of the year is almost purely down to man’s own efforts…therefore perhaps dredging is the answer whereas in a ‘natural’ river area it wouldn’t be.