Editor’s comment: How much more flooding will there be?
PUBLISHED: 14:30 09 October 2019
That was my first thought when the pictures of Brownswood Road started appearing on Tuesday morning: three years on from the flood that devastated homes and businesses in Upper Street, or the pipe burst a week later that left parts of Stoke Newington under water, another disaster that has hit upwards of 100 homes and will mean months of disruption and heartache for many.
Like those two, this one was caused by a ruptured main. And like those two, it shouldn't have happened - certainly not with Thames Water claiming to spend £1million every single day upgrading and replacing the Victorian water network below London, certainly not so close to a pipe that bosses knew needed strengthening more than two years ago (it vowed to re-line the Stoke Newington main after the flood there) and certainly not on the watch of a company that paid two of its executives a bonus of nearly £800,000 this year. It told a public meeting in January 2017 that there had been 20 major bursts in the 12 months to date, but couldn't be specific about whether that was an increase as its rep didn't have data to hand.
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Labour has been quick to seize on Finsbury Park as evidence that the water supply should be nationalised, as per its policy announcements in recent weeks. After the Angel burst, the local Greens were quick - some criticised them of being too quick - to point out the increase in hard standing and loss of soil in front gardens over recent decades, which enables water to drain.
But perhaps the most worrying realisation is that even without damaged pipes and concrete gardens we're in for more of the same unless we can significantly and urgently reduce our carbon emissions as a society.
Large-scale flooding in urban areas, especially near rivers and estuaries, is a likely effect of climate change, and outside the UK it's already devastating communities.
We must help and support our neighbours in Finsbury Park, and Thames Water must be held to account.
But when the water has dried, we and the government must take drastic action to stop this becoming the new normal.