Using an example of an extreme weather event in the UK, assess whether the socio-economic effects were more important than the environmental effects.

1772 Somerset Flooding
Flooding on the Somerset Levels, February 2014 (Photo: Met Office)

 

A recent extreme weather event in the UK that I have studied is the 2014 flooding of the Somerset Levels in the South West of England.

The social effects included the flooding of over 600 houses and the evacuation of 16 farms. Villages, such as Borrowbridge,  were cut off, and power supplies, roads, and railways were also affected. The Bristol to Taunton line was closed at Bridgwater for instance.

14 000 hectares of farmland were flooded and around 1000 livestock had to be evacuated. All of this caused disruption to the usual economic activities of going to work and shopping, having a knock-on impact on the regional economy. In addition, the evacuations and clean-up work cost an estimated £10million, just in the short term. A further £20million action plan was later launched by Somerset council and the Environment Agency.

These socio-economic impacts were doubtless very important to the people affected at the time; for example, some of the evacuated residents were still living in temporary accommodation several months after the event. The economic impact will have been felt by the individuals involved as well as the taxpayer, local businesses and the local authorities.

The environmental impacts were even worse though; an enormous volume of debris dumped by the floodwaters had to be cleaned up and stagnant waters had to be re-oxygenated before being pumped back into rivers. However, I think the worse impact of all was the contamination of all flooded areas by oil, agricultural chemicals, livestock effluent, and human sewage. I think that this is the worst impact because of its potential for causing harm to humans and other animals.

In conclusion, I think that the socio-economic and environmental effects of this flood were both important but that the environmental effect was more important, because of the potential to cause harm.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Liam Duke says:

    The best article I’ve ever seen about extreme weather in Somerset!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sean brimacombe says:

    Very swanky article. 10/10

    Like

  3. Becky Hyson says:

    It sounds devastating for those affected, including wildlife who use the river as a water source. £30 million in short term and long term responses seems like a lot of money too.
    Very interesting article Geography Cat!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Will moody says:

    This was fantastic!!! 10/10 couldn’t have made it any better!!

    Like

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