Somerset levels or Dawlish. Both have history and nothing is particularly new. What is new is our environmental agenda that runs a green line against common sense. In the Somerset Levels or Moors, a man made system of drainage built by Charles 1st was ignored in compliance with a 2004 EU edict “Making Space for Water”. The Environmental Agency report of 2008 makes disturbing reading. An assessment of that can be found here. Dredging came second to water voles although I would suggest that few survived this inundation. Common sense and local knowledge was supplanted by career politicians, the green mantra and control by a self regulated London based quango. Dawlish had a similar problem where coastal erosion had denuded the beach of it’s protective shield and attempts to correct the problem was blocked by the Green agenda and the Environment Agency’s demand for a year long survey on birds. On the Levels the calls for assistance and plain old common sense was ignored for too long and Dawlish can point to previous disasters with the coast railway, We may say that it is a daft place for a rail line but it is is close proximity to the sea that makes it such an attractive and well supported line.
Easterly gales during the first fortnight of February in 1855, had washed away the beach near Teignmouth, exposing the marl on which the railway and sea-wall were built. Heavy seas scoured the marl and despite remedial work, 30 yards of wall collapsed on the 16th. Severe frosts and turbulent seas prevented reconstruction, and by the time work could begin, 50 yards of the embankment had been washed away.
Traffic was resumed by running trains to the edge of the breach and passengers walking round. A wooden viaduct built across the gap was completed in early March.
Looks like it took them six weeks back in 1855. Funny that despite improvements in technology we are no quicker.