Our numbers at hen-cleaning were boosted this morning by the unexpected return of Jack who had to abandon his camping holiday in Wales when his family caravan was virtually destroyed by onrushing flood water. No one was hurt, and our pal now recalls the nightmare with his usual humour. He told us that as the caravan lifted from the ground his first thought was that his brother is still forbidden to use a hosepipe on his smallholding!
It served to remind us of the sheer lunacy of our national water policy, one followed by a series of Environment Secretaries, the latest of which is Caroline Spelman, the one that suddenly decided that privatising the forests would be a wizard wheeze. Perhaps they have all been equally daft, certain it is that not one has paused to wonder why it is that, despite a series of very wet years in most parts of the country, we continue to suffer acute water shortages.
An easy way to look at the policy, or lack of one, is to use the example of our allotment tubs. For months now they have been slopping over and a zillion gallons of the wet stuff has simply seeped away or poured down the drains. Why? Because we don’t have enough tubs. Change the word tubs to reservoirs and you have the national story!
Over the past 30 years there has been a huge increase in population and a increased demand for water. Over the same period there has been no increase in the overall number of reservoirs. Various proposals have been made, one example being a plan for five vast additional reservoirs in south-east England. All plans were overruled, the last two by Ms Spelman.
You may be reflecting that money is also in short supply, but that is not the reason for the zero increase in water storage capacity. In fact since the 1980s we have spent £67 billion on complying with three absurdly exacting EU directives on water quality. Now we face the daddy of them all. We are required to spend £30 billion on removing from our rivers and water supplies any trace of the hormones in contraceptive pills, which are allegedly threatening the fertility of freshwater fish. Such a filtering concept is extremely complex and expensive, it is based on very flimsy evidence and there is no suggestion of harmful effects to humans or wildlife in general. Just a fraction of the cost of this latest madness would build a dozen new vast reservoirs.
And it is not only reservoirs that have fallen victim to Brussels dictats. Very little funding has been allocated to mending leaks which, experts tell us, account for an annual loss of as much water as half of our existing reservoirs hold. As with most private enterprise in today’s Britain most of our water supply companies are owned by European companies. No surprise then that after making large profits for their shareholders they give priority to compliance with every wink from Brussels. And, as with so many things, our own government has lost the will to resist and risk appearing in the EU courts.
With the weathermen telling us that over the next few years large parts of the UK will suffer ever-increasing rainfall it is incredible that our government’s main thrust is to spend billions on publicity urging us to save water. It is, they cry, a precious commodity. How strange then that our so-called policy involves wasting 70% of what falls from the skies, and this calculation omits the rain falling on agricultural land.
Scandal is the only word to describe the stewardship of water by successive governments. If Cameron is forced to hold a referendum on EU membership the goalposts may shift. But we should perhaps pray that should that happen, we have someone somewhat more sensible than Caroline Spelman in charge!
PUBLIC INDIFFERENCE HAS TERRIBLE OUTCOME!
Jospeph Moran beat and raped a young student in Nottingham. He has ruined her life and deserves the longest sentence allowed by law. The man is a monster and should be left to rot.
But the people that make me reach for the sick bag are the driver and passengers on the late-night Trent Barton bus. The girl was 20p short of her £5 fare and pleaded to board on the basis that her Mum was waiting for the bus at the other end and would pay the 20p. Recordings show that the pleading and argument went on for 8 minutes during which time the driver refused to help and not a single passenger offered to pay the measly sum of 20p.
What sort of society have we become? Perhaps those passengers and the driver are mulling that over having learned of the terrible fate to which they left a tearful young girl!