Thursday, April 30, 2015

What's Victoria Atkins got against the Eels?

Eels cropped up at the Mablethorpe general election hustings in a question about the Environment Agency.  Now the EA is an institution that some of my fellow citizens view with mistrust and cynicism and criticism is popular amongst a certain section of local opinion.  I live below sea level twice a day and owe a lot to the engineers of the EA who design, build and maintain the sea defences so I have a bit of a soft spot for them.

The Tory candidate, Victoria Atkins, may be of the opinion that having a go at the EA will win votes.  Donna Nook was mentioned by another candidate.  That's where the EA has done a realignment job, moving the sea defence inland, making it much more robust and increasing the area of salt-marsh.  The project not only improves our security against storm surges as sea level rises, it also complies with the EU Habitats Directive, which, simply put, insists that if work is done in one place that causes a loss of habitat, then an equivalent new habitat has to be created nearby.  The hard defences for Hull and the Humber Bank industries are squeezing the salt-marsh there, so the extra at Donna Nook redresses the balance.  It may be inconvenient for the anti-EU folk, but this cannot be seen as Brussels dictating the lives of the plucky Brit.  This was largely a UK Government initiative and it is Britain that has, if anything, imposed the Habitats Directive on the rest of Europe.  Anyway, I give the EA a score of 9/10 for the scheme, with its difficulties caused by those who have opposed it, adding delay and cost.

It's strange how folk distrust the EA.  On the 6th December 2013 there was a tidal surge that caused some flooding in Boston, but at Saltfleet the brand new wall held fast with the water almost two feet short of the top.  A year earlier there was no end of opposition from the locals claiming the EA had got it wrong and the planned wall wasn't wanted.  Fortunately, that local opinion was not heeded, the wall was built, property and perhaps lives were protected.

Which brings us onto the eels.  Here's a snippet from the Sustainable Eel Group:

"Eel numbers have declined for many reasons in the last decade, including because they have struggled to bypass man-made barriers to reach important upstream habitats. Efforts are now underway to correct this, and rivers in Lincolnshire will be central to European efforts to help eel populations. Other initiatives on the Lymn include the construction of eel passes by the Environment Agency to help eels on their crucial migration up and down the river, and other conservation projects led by the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust."

But tragically, it appears that Victoria Atkins is not so keen on the Environment Agency spending the hard-earned money of hard-working families on eels. Which, frankly, is sad.  And it's why she's a Tory and not a Green.


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