How our rivers became clogged up with oceans of red tape

From: HD Milner, Marton, Sinnington, York.

AFTER reading Mr Sutcliffe’s letter (Yorkshire Post, January 29) on dredging of rivers, I thought he may be interested in what I have to say.

I have farmed and lived with a river passing through our land for 45 years, so feel that I have more than a basic understanding of the whys and wherefores of a waterway.

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In the 1960s we had the River Board. It is all in the name; they maintained the river, there were a group of men that cut off overhanging and fallen trees, repaired banks with piles and interwoven thorns and willows to stop erosion, deposits of silt were dredged and widened where necessary, hence the water flowed freely when swollen. I cannot remember having to move livestock to safety because of any serious flooding.

More recently it all changed. The new fancy name “Environment Agency” came with new legislation, protection of wildlife, health and safety issues, red tape, new shining hard hats, fluorescent jackets and clip boards. Now we have large numbers of chiefs but sadly very few warriors.

Consequently, hardly any proper maintenance gets done due to their hands being tied because of the pressure from wildlife lobbies and the likes of Defra.

The result of this has left the rivers in a disgraceful state of repair. We have major bank slips overhanging and fallen trees and debris from flood water hanging in trees (plastic etc). I think the future looks very bleak.

I and many others feel we must stop this daft obsession with wildlife and the rubbish of protected areas of SSI (Special Scientific Interest). How can this be more important than safeguarding homes, businesses and farm land? It beggars belief.

Let us change the clipboard men for a band of workers with waders, chainsaws, digger drivers, pile driver operators who can be left to get on with the job, with the aid of modern day machinery, guidance from fewer chiefs, assisted by farmers and land owners.

This could be achieved and save thousands of pounds on flood defences.

From: RC Curry, Adel Grange Close, Leeds.

IT truly is amazing how a few flakes of snow seem to paralyse the country these days (Tom Richmond, Yorkshire Post, January 26).

With all the scientific advances, technological improvements, mega-tons of grit, roads cleared at regular intervals and a host of other aids, just why do we have to be terrorised by the media at the very thought of venturing out of doors on foot or especially with a car? “Stay at home is the cry”, when the answer is to get the cars on the road to churn the snow into slush and water.

Also, brushing the snow off the car before driving it and perhaps sweeping the drive and making a clear way – horror of horrors!

Going back to the 1950s and 1960s, driving a Morris Minor I drove from Leeds to Hull four or five days a week on little more than a country lane, and never failed to make it there and back.

At weekends a trip over the Pennines via Standedge to see the lady in my life, perhaps following through the roughly cut track of the tractor-cum-snowplough, never once being unable to make it to the other side and back again in time for work on Monday morning.

Perhaps it was because we had the sense to fit winter tyres, have a shovel in the boot and not just venture out in minimal clothing with unsuitable shoes, but moreover buy cars which could be relied on to pull their weight when required to do so.

Or maybe because we had 
the determination to get to work, and not just yawn at the thought of it all and take the day off at the encouraging behest of the BBC, with their warning triangles and pictures of doom and gloom.

Come on Britain, show some backbone and stop behaving like a bunch of feeble can’t-be-bothered, idle layabouts.