Yet again, just over two years after the devastating floods in Tewkesbury, Britain finds itself once more coming to terms with the aftermath of a devastating freak weather occurrence and its impact on the people in Scotland and the north of England.
Quite rightly, people’s thoughts are focused on the tragic loss of life (including PC Bill Barker who died in the line of duty helping people after a bridge collapse in Workington) and also the huge clean-up operation that will be required afterwards.
But shouldn’t we also stop to think about the impact of climate change on our lives, and consider whether or not events like this are likely to become more common?
Whether or not you believe that humans are responsible for the obvious changes in the Earth’s climate, those changes are a fact.
Increasingly unpredictable weather events are affecting many parts of the world – from Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans in 2005 to Hurricane Felix that killed hundreds of people in Nicaragua in 2007 and the floods that left thousands homeless in eastern Africa in the same year.
Trends would suggest that increasingly volatile climatic events are going to become a regular feature of our lives and whilst we are right to focus our efforts now on helping the victims to get their lives back together we also need to make sure that we are considering the reality of climate change in our future plans.
Rising water levels, wider variations in temperature and a wetter but warmer climate are all realities for Britain.
We must mitigate the impact of these facts on British life by sensibly considering them in our planning and development activity.
The Government cannot pursue a strategy of allowing the population of our cities to grow unchecked; this places enormous pressure on the infrastructure in those cities, not least the need for housing.
The building of housing in flood-plains must stop. The Government must develop a clear strategy for dealing with the need for additional housing, whilst also looking to address the regional imbalances caused by mass immigration and demographic shift.
Mainland Britain is a beautiful island, but one that can only comfortably support a certain size of population – before we cram any more people in, we must make sure that our population can be safely and comfortably housed – targets for huge numbers of houses in former flood-plains across the south-east of England are simply unrealistic.
We must also put more effort into the protection of our environment, and that means better planning, and more considerate use of our planet’s resources.
In my area, northern Enfield, I am particularly keen to prevent further development in our Green Belt. This band of greenery around London is essential to the quality of life of all Londoners, and we must minimise development there.
Whilst I understand the need for new housing, I believe that this must be carefully-balanced against environmental considerations, and I will personally resist further building in the area.