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9:40am Friday 6th July 2012 in Letters
Sir, – The extraordinary weather of the past few days is not that extraordinary. We have had similar storms several times during the past ten years.
Chester-le-Street and Gateshead sit in a large ancient river bed, where the River Wear once upon a time flowed into the Tyne. During a deluge, ancient river systems are naturally the places where rainwater will collect.
Such places should be designated as green belt. Building shops, schools and homes in these areas is folly in the first place.
Developers also create huge areas of tarmacadam, into which rainwater cannot naturally drain. We need to change this.
We need sluice gates and weirs on our rivers. There are ancient meadows all over the country, which can be used in great storms to hold excessive rainwater.
To go some way to alleviate the problem, it is essential we plant millions of trees in and around our communities, along our roadside verges and on farmland near railways straightaway.
Trees can rapidly take up huge amounts of water. Trees also help climate change. But the Environment Agency should have proper funding for flood prevention schemes.
If in times of danger the river levels were artificially lowered in anticipation of trouble, the rainwater would have other places to go away from schools, homes and businesses.
Building in the right way, and in the right places, is the best way to prevent the problem. Developers are to blame.
But we have to manage where we are now.
NIGEL F BODDY Darlington