Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Benign Floods

Goldcrest seeking refuge from the rains

Loch MacGregor
Loch MacGregor and Ben Lomond
Forth in full flow
Waterfall at the Trossachs Lodge
I was surprised to find a Goldcrest in the porch, it was seeking refuge from the non stop rains that had persisted for 48 hours. The Goldcrest  is the smallest British bird and could fit in a match box according to my bird book when I was a child. This fact had stuck in my mind ever since and now was the chance to test it but all we had was a box of Cooks Matches and you could get a blackbird in there with a bit of folding. We enticed the Goldcrest out of the porch and it took refuge from the downpour in the adjacent evergreen tree along with a couple of dozen other birds.

The next morning the floods had arrived but not before the children had got to school and then the rains abated and we were treated to a benign flood. The river had not risen to the extent that the roads were impassable but I was distraught when I discovered that there is now proposed a £12m flood protection scheme designed to cope with the 100 year flood. All that is needed for most years is a levee for about 200 metres that could be created by a man in a JCB in a couple of days. There would be no days lost from school, the traffic would get through and the consultants would not get their estimated £825,000 fee. What we need is a bit of common sense, the Aberfoyle and Loch Ard flood scheme is the local equivalent of HS2, a bonanza for the engineering companies and at a cost that will preclude any development taking place for many more years.

The positive take on this flood was that the 'set aside' fields were covered with a sheet of water, the ducks arrived and we had acquired a prime loch side view. I grabbed the camera and took an afternoon stroll around the new waterscapes, made friends with the lady with the bike and the greyhound and wandered up to the David Marshall lodge to see the waterfall. It had never looked as good and there were still plenty of families on the October holidays enjoying the walks in the forest. If floods could be made as benign as this, there would be no unnecessary school closures, no stream of vehicles trapped in the village and it could all be done for a fraction of the Rolls Royce solution that consultants seem to regard as de rigour when seeking to win public investment contracts. Or as a consultant reader of this blog pointed out, the client (the local Council) could be a whole lot smarter in specifying the brief so that the consultant's proposals could be both affordable and appropriate.

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