EU Directives have hampered dredging and traditional water management

Graham Charles Lear
3 min readMar 3, 2020


For generations, British farmers and landowners as well as waterways authorities, have dredged rivers, culverts, streams and ponds, as part of the regular maintenance of the countryside.

Then in 2000, a raft of EU Directives started appearing — particularly the Water Framework Directive and its sub-directives, as well as the Waste Framework and Habitat Directives — which began to interfere in the normal dredging traditions. There are so many EU Directives which now affect water management and dredging that I will not list them all.

Suffice it to say that whilst the EU has not yet banned dredging completely, it has made it much more difficult and much more expensive.

Flooding for the non-metropolitan, non-Brussels, non-elites

Across the UK for many years now, issues like flooding have assumed rather more important for rural and semi-rural people than for most metropolitan bubble-dwellers.

More effective dredging is not the answer to preventing all flooding problems, however its very telling that after 2014 flooding of Somerset and the rich area next to the Thames river where celebrities live has not flooded since it was dredged even with all the storms we have seen this year. but the EU’s interference in this area has hardly helped. In 10 months’ time, the UK will no longer be subject to these EU Directives and it is to be hoped that the Environment Agency is already working on their replacement by a simpler and more reasonable system of supervision.

Issues like these are always more complex than they first appear, and naturally, Remoaners will continue to pretend that the EU is not at fault in any way. On topics like this, they deflect by saying “The EU does not prevent dredging, so this is fake news.”

It is true that the EU’s Directives do not prevent the dredging of rivers, streams and ponds completely. No-one is saying that. What I am saying is that this is an example of an area which has been grossly over-regulated by the EU. It is now hugely bureaucratic, restricted, time-consuming, and expensive.

It has caused great problems for farmers and land managers and the banishment of these EU Directives at the end of the year will be welcomed in many parts of the United Kingdom.

Then all we have to do is tackle the bureaucratic Environment Agency, but let’s win one battle at a time….

Which brings me to another good point.

EU has given nothing to UK flood victims since 2016 from its Disaster Fund

17 EU payouts in the last 3 years for other countries, part-paid for by UK taxpayers

The EU has a natural disasters fund for EU member countries experiencing extreme events, mainly floods. Payouts have totalled €5.2 billion. Since 2016 the UK has received nothing.

The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was created after the floods in Central Europe in the summer of 2002. So far 24 different European countries have been supported.

The “European Union Solidarity Fund”

Since 2002 the EU has agreed to pay out for floods and severe weather-related events 77 times

In 17 years, only two of these 77 payouts went to the UK

In the last 10 years, the UK has received just 1.5% of the money paid out

That’s the same percentage as Serbia has received, and Serbia isn’t even an EU member state

Meanwhile, for the last 18 years, the UK taxpayer has been funding 12.5% of this

For the UK from 2016, NO payouts have been approved by the EU for UK floods

In the same period, the EU agreed 17 payouts totalling €1.7 billion to other EU countries

This fund is called the “EU Solidarity Fund”
The UK was a member of the EU until 01 Feb this year, 2020

British people in flooded areas may feel entitled to ask the EU:
“Where has your solidarity been?”

(Data were taken from official EU Commission records, last updated end-Nov 2019.)

[ Sources: EU Commission | EU Parliament | Environment Agency | European Dredging Association (EuDA)



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.