Do you agree that we are experiencing a change in the world’s climate? I do.
Whilst there are plenty of people who would agree with me, there are quite a few who remain sceptical.
How is it that a part of Canada is experiencing an “Artic Vortex” with temperatures dropping to minus 50 degrees F, Australia having some of the worst forest fires in living memory, California experiencing the worst drought for 20 years, and ourselves in this country experiencing the worst flooding on record?
The cyclonic storms of 2012 that wiped out our summer will not be forgotten. Until the world’s politicians make a greater effort to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere I see little hope for mankind when sea levels are rising due to the melting of polar ice causing crops to be devastated, and agricultural land lost for ever from floods and fire storms.
Here in Rye we have been luckier than many in this country. This winter we escaped the worst of the December storms, when the river at Strand Quay rose to within nine bricks of the flood wall.
The Environment Agency said that if it had tipped over many hundred homes would probably have been flooded. We were saved from possible disaster largely by the Environment Agency who managed the situation by day and night checking levels and ensuring the river level was lowered during ebb tides by managing the sluice gates. Fortunately we had men of undoubted experience knowing exactly how to control water levels.
Unfortunately due to the government’s austerity measures the Environment Agency is having no alternative but to make hundreds of flood specialists redundant.
It is reported that 1,600 posts are due to be shed by October, including an estimated 550 staff employed on flood protection despite record numbers of flood warnings last year and more recently.
There are fears that this number will continue to grow due to climate change. Despite the Environment Minister claiming funding for flood defence would be greater than last year, it has been reported that the government had got its figure wrong, and it will actually be less!
The Rye Emergency Action Team (REACT) does what it can to assist the professionals in their tasks, and give useful backup by its constant vigilance during bad weather, checking on flood systems and water courses. But it could do with more volunteers to lend local support to the emergency services.
It is good to see at last some new development proposed to replace the derelict warehouses in Winchelsea Road. The town is in a bad need of a face lift! More of course needs to be done.
By the time you read this column the Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group will have had their public meeting this week to allow local people to have a greater say on local planning issues, and what improvements they want in the town.
The Group’s strategic objective for the Plan will have been plainly set out, and I quote, “to ensure that there is a strategic and coherent development of Rye with the aim of improving the economic and social wellbeing of the community, considering in particular its role as a market town, a centre of tourism, leisure and culture; its commercial and fishing port, all in the context of its historic maritime character and vulnerability to flooding.”.
On matters of traffic management the Plan will include in its objectives, local traffic needs, improved road realignment to cope with increased traffic, a holistic parking review, and improved cycle parks and cycle routes.
On this particular subject the Steering Group is intending to link its work closely with the Highways Forum which to me seems to make a lot of sense.