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Put defence on to the attack


It was with high expectation that I saw headlined the special feature on flood and coastal management (NCE 24 January).

The expectation of thought provoking ideas and issues that could be argued with, or for, which expand our consciousness of the many layered and difficult problems being faced.

Indeed, to a large degree, this was what we received.

Unfortunately, what we also had was a frustrating reiteration of dogma; such as hard is bad, soft is good, without recognition of the need for appropriate management for each particular situation.

We also read an exaltation of extensive guidance, which so often, in practice, becomes the procedural hiding place for the inexperienced and a straight jacket on imaginative thought.

I applaud the talk of holistic thinking but, while strategies are cherry picked to death because their thinking cannot be squeezed into approval procedures and while the ultimate policy documents are considered to be the defence orientated shoreline and catchment plans, we are only halfway there.

We need to encourage and drive spatial, coastal and catchment zone planning as the basic foundation for management. We need to see ourselves as engineering systems not necessarily defences.

Gregor Guthrie (M), 7 Suttons Lane, Deeping Gate, Peterborough PE6 9AA

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