In a well-featured piece in the Mail, Christopher Booker catalogues the failures of the Environment Agency that have allowed the Somerset Levels to be submerged for most of this Winter. He rightly identifies that the old Drainage Boards, organised and run locally by those familiar with the watercourses, flood plains and topography of their areas, abolished in favour of a centralist State authority, did a far better job. And as a sting in the tail, he points out that the Norfolk Broads, not run by the EA but by a local Board, have escaped flooding problems this year.
Spot on. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act 1988 was a thorn in the heart of the centralists; when the Tories sought to enact the Environment Act 1995 which created the EA they badly wanted to include the Broads, but difficulties including a concerted local campaign of opposition kept the Broads out of the EA's clutches. It continues with its remit (a legal obligation the Greens can't touch) to serve agriculture, forestry, local social and economic interests, navigation, public enjoyment, natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.
Unlike of course the EA, conceived from an act of green insanity, with a mission to "achieve sustainable development" with a vision of a "rich, healthy and diverse environment for present and future generations". And this is the problem with remote, central State authorities that lose touch with their local roots; they become susceptible to influence by cranks and nutters who value geese over people.