Shropshire Star comment: How do we protect county from floods?
In the wake of the devastation caused by this month’s floods, thoughts have been turning to how we can better protect ourselves in future.
Because it is going to happen again and again, and if nothing is done the inevitability of the misery and loss will hang over the lives of those who were hit this time round, as well as those who escaped, just about, but may not enjoy such fortune in the future.
There was a serious worry that the flood barriers in Ironbridge would be defeated. While the barriers on the River Severn were successful in protecting many, you only have to look at our floods coverage to see the impact on large numbers of people in Shropshire and Mid Wales.
Businesses and householders have been left to mop up the mess and try to rebuild in the knowledge that they will be getting back on their feet with no guarantee that they will not be knocked down again.
- Shropshire braces for more flooding chaos as severe warning in place for Shrewsbury
- Severe 'danger to life' flooding warning for Shrewsbury as River Severn rises again
- Flood warning issued for Ironbridge ahead of river peaking tomorrow
- New £40m plan to protect homes from River Severn flooding
- GALLERY: A dip into the flooding archives
- Parts of UK blanketed in snow as flood warnings continue
When something as bad as this happens, it concentrates the minds, and there is renewed focus on seeing what more can be done.
The ideas vary, from dredging the Severn, to developing huge floodwater catchment areas on rural land which could reduce river volumes.
Shropshire Council is in discussions over another possibility, which would see a dam underneath the proposed North West Relief Road which it says would slow down the river. It would be hugely expensive, but the claimed pay off is that thousands of people would be spared flooding.
In examining such proposals, there will be many issues to be taken on board, including practicality, technical feasibility, effectiveness, and perhaps even morality. For instance, if sparing thousands of people from flooding comes as a result of increasing the risk of flooding for fewer numbers of people who have hitherto been spared, such measures would inevitably be highly controversial.
And while the experts try to find a way of making things better, we should at least be determined not to make things worse by condemning people to the risk of flooding by building in areas with a potential flood risk.
A flood of a different sort created havoc at Weston Park, the stately home on the Shropshire-Staffordshire border.
A burst pipe flooded an upstairs bathroom, brought down part of the ceiling, and damaged the room below. That would be bad enough in any house, let alone a grand house, but in this case the room below was a 17th century dining room.
The good news is that major damage was averted, but nevertheless the restoration has proven a long and painstaking job, undertaken in a way which respects the heritage of the building, which historically was the family seat of Lord Bradford, but is now owned and maintained by the Weston Park Foundation charitable trust.
It is difficult to think of a local landscape without Weston Park, with its huge grounds, but we should be grateful that it thrives when so many grand halls and mansions in our countryside have been bulldozed or drastically reduced in size.
Downton Abbey captivated television audiences, but the series stopped before getting to the bit where they couldn’t recruit the servants or generate the income to pay the massive bills.