Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And newts to you, too!

This is unreal.

Bureaucracy gone mad.

An English couple, the Histeds, have a million-pound house that suffered flood damage some months ago. They repaired the damage, to the tune of a quarter of a million pounds.

Last week, with the repairs almost complete, a blocked drainage ditch - not on the couple's property, but part of a motorway drainage system - caused their house to flood again. They now have to re-do much of the repair work.

They duly approached the Highways Agency to ask permission to unblock the ditch, so that they wouldn't get flooded again.

Would you believe it? The Highways Agency refused permission for them to drain the ditch - because it might (I emphasize might) contain Great Crested Newts (a protected species). They don't know for sure if they're there, so the Highways Agency will have to undertake a survey, sifting the water and mud by hand to see if they find any. That will take - wait for it - until autumn this year.

Meanwhile, the Histeds daren't waste any more money on repairs in case they're flooded out again: and they're forced to live in a travel trailer rather than in their house.

The mind boggles.

Y'know, I think there's a fair, rational, reasonable solution to this problem. The Government agency(ies?) responsible for protecting the Great Crested Newt should pay the Histeds the value of their house - a million pounds, and tax-free at that. The Histeds could then buy themselves a home wherever they pleased (probably as far away as possible from the nearest newts) and the Government agency(ies?) could use the nicely flooded house to breed as many Great Crested Newts as their dear bureaucratic hearts could desire.

To victimize the Histeds for damage to their home that's caused by a blocked State drainage system, and then add insult to injury by making them put up with all this crap . . . all I can say is, if it happened in my part of the world it'd be cause to get out the tar and feathers for those responsible for this insanity.

The arrogant, uncaring, domineering bureaucracy now running England never ceases to find new ways to astonish me. I think it's time to rewrite the chorus to the famous "Rule, Britannia!" anthem.

Oh, Britannia, you used to rule the waves:
But your bureaucrats have made you into slaves!




Harrison said...

The Great Crested Newt must be a biggie across the pond. (Certainly Greater than the formerly Great Britain.) They closed a road in Wales just so they could get some nookie.


Psychlone Ranger said...

Unfortunately, BRM, the Brits aren't the only ones who practice this stupidity.
I remembr seeing stories in the US press in the 80's and 90's about similar occurrances with "protected wetlands" which were just flooded yards or farmers' fields.

The EPA refused tlo let people drain standing water, claiming that the area had become an 'ecosystem' when all it really was was a mosguito breeding ground.

Anonymous said...

Not to say there are never good reasons on this, but I think far more often than not the correct solution would involve the attitude that it's simpler to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

First there's the question of whether such a large and ponderous red-tape generator would even notice in the first place, and then especially in this case where the problem isn't even on their land, there's the question of "Well are you sure it was us?" ;)