Flooding expert: Prime Minister's support for dredging is misguided
Release Date 05 February 2014
David Cameron said at his weekly Prime Minister's Questions today that MPs with rural constituencies "have seen the effectiveness of some dredging that has taken place" and that dredging had worked for "decades and centuries".
"Now if it is good for some places, we need to make the argument that it would be good for many more places," the Prime Minister said.
But Dr Hannah Cloke, a flooding expert at the University of Reading, said the Prime Minister's comments were not backed up by evidence.
Dr Cloke said: "The Prime Minister's comment that we should spend more money dredging rivers, because it worked decades and centuries ago, shows short-term politics has trumped long-term scientific and economic evidence.
"An extra £100million for emergency repairs and maintenance is very welcome, but when the risk of floods is growing and when public finances are tight it's vital that every penny is spent wisely.
"Supporting dredging is attractive because it looks like action, but Mr Cameron should realise that it is not just the climate which is changing. The Britain of today is very different from the Britain of the past. If we want to better adapt to the risk of flooding, taxpayers' cash would be better spent on more effective, long-term soft engineering schemes to protect homes, such as water capture and upland tree planting."