Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Water, water, every where…

With the floods trickling through Tysoe, last weekend, but overwhelming Oxhill (enough, so village rumour states, to transform the old treatment plant into a mere sieve – and causing the local water company to deploy two boxy, dark green machines, I presume in its stead: appearing, like cuboid alien spacecraft, out of the blue – and then dropped into it…), it would seem a difficult argument to make that “there is sufficient capacity” with regards to local drainage, and that dumping several hectares of concrete and tarmac on a field of ridge-and-furrow next to Oxhill Road is therefore “a low risk”.

It would also seem an odd time to cut jobs from the Environment Agency – partly responsible for building, maintaining and controlling flood defences – and then claim (as has the PM) that a reduced budget for these is actually an increase.

Villagers have long known – from experience, rather than desktop-bound “hydraulic modelling” – how devastatingly the run-off from local storms distributes itself: oozing out of well-maintained drainage ditches, to pool in local fields, threatening our farmers’ livelihoods; banishing all but the foolhardy, and those in 4x4s (not a mutually exclusive pairing), from our narrow, winding, and occasionally sinking lanes; and even the developer’s own engineers admit that the local “soils are poorly draining and therefore have a low capacity to absorb excess winter rainfall…”.

Additionally, it had already been revealed – before said developers came along – that the treatment plant was at its maximum capacity – which means that any storm discharge goes straight into Wagtail Brook, bypassing any treatment; and only a small proportion of sewage gets processed.

So where does this parallel effrontery – from both government and commerce (again, not a mutually exclusive pairing) – originate: that produces such barefaced assertions?

The easy answer, I believe, is greed. All a business, based over 100 miles away, cares for, is badly-needed profit. “Sustainability” is a mere buzzword; damage to the environment (local and global), and people’s lives, not even distant thoughts, mere wisps, or glimmers; not even a faint electric impulse weakly echoing around their little grey cells.

Ours is a society now based on self, on solipsism. The only reason to (pretend to) care for someone, to befriend them, is if they can improve your life. They can then be disposed of – as the land will be to those who think Peckham-style “urban grain” would look nice tacked on to a rural village of over 1000 years standing (rather than the integrated medieval field) – along with any mere wisps or glimmers of empathy, of altruism, or of the greater good. Of hope.

The only glimmer I can currently see is one of Tysoe’s rare street-lamps, reflecting in a pool of flood-water.

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