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Brighton Suburb of Bevendean Heavily Hit With Flooding

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The Week : Brighton suburb of Bevendean heavily hit with flooding There is no river anywhere near, but last week the Brighton suburb of Bevendean was drying out after a flood. Carpets, sodden furniture, washing machines and freezers were being thrown into skips, mud hosed out of houses. People knew what to do; it had happened before. Muddy water, runoff from fields planted with winter cereals, had flowed down a normally dry valley and into the houses. Four small dams meant to protect houses filled and overflowed. But much of the damaging flow resulted from a field that bypassed the dams. In this field, a gully 1.5 metre deep and several hundred metres long had been cut in the early hours of 12 October. It discharged hundreds of tons of mud into houses and roads. Bevendean, like other sites around Brighton, has a long history of flooding and serious soil erosion. ...read more.


The case sought to prove that cultivation of steep slopes for wheat constituted a predictable risk of downvalley flooding. That it was done in the knowledge of the risk, and that nothing had been done to mitigate that risk, and that therefore, land use and farming practices were more responsible than the heavy rain. Central to the case, and others like it, is the assertion that it is how, when and where the valley-slopes are cultivated - not the fact that it rains hard as the main cause of muddy-flood damage. Farmers thus have a responsibility to manage land wisely, including an awareness of downvalley risk of flooding. This is not only a South Downs problem. In other parts of the country where houses are adjacent to farmland, the incidence of muddy-flooding has increased since the adoption of winter cereals in the 1970s. Particularly at risk is the Isle of Wight, Devon, Somerset, Kent and parts of the east and west Midlands. ...read more.


Recent media reports have linked flooding in southeastern England to climate change. There is certainly an element of storms and exceptional rainfall, but housing developments on floodplains have also contributed to the catalogue of damage. Floodplains are meant to provide a natural service by storing water like a sponge - not be cluttered with houses. With the issue of runoff from agricultural land, it is easy to demonstrate that landuse is critically important. Damage occurs where property is in close proximity to bare cultivated fields, and these sites are quite predictable. Damage will not occur every year, but in relatively wet autumns such as 1982, 1987, and 2000. Farmers at these sites are engaged in a risk-taking activity (commonly called a gamble) and can expect to lose every few years. But the real losers are the insurance companies, the local councils, and the householders. Costs of damage to crops are minimal compared to those associated with the flooding of houses. In the short-term, muddy-flooding of properties is a cost that is borne by non-agricultural sectors of society. By Robin Jany 10L ...read more.

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