Sunday, June 19, 2011

A flood expert banned in Scotland

Rob Edwards in HeraldScotland rakes some pertinent muck about officialdom’s eagerness to ignore risks: An expert on flooding has been banned from criticising Scottish ministers for ignoring the risk of widespread chaos the country would face after a storm surge in the Firth of Forth. Leading insurance and risk specialist, David Crichton, was due to tell a government-backed conference in Scotland on climate change this week that the country’s vital supplies of fuel, food and power would be seriously disrupted by a flood in the Forth.

He was going to accuse ministers of “denial and complacency” because they had failed to consider the need to build a flood barrier to protect the oil and gas facilities, food distribution depot and power station that line the estuary.

But hours after the Sunday Herald started to make inquiries about his criticisms, he was instructed by organisers to withdraw them and focus instead on giving practical insurance advice to businesses. “They told me it was not suitable,” Crichton said. “I thought it was too good to be true to let me say what I wanted. I have no axe to grind, no bosses to suffer.”

The conference in Edinburgh is due to be opened on Thursday by the climate change minister, Stewart Stevenson. It is being organised by the government-funded Scottish Climate Change Impacts Partnership.

Crichton, from Perth, has spent 25 years in the insurance industry, and advises governments and international agencies on flood risks. He is an honorary professor at University College London and a research fellow at the University of Dundee. His prepared presentation to the conference warns that the consequences of a credible flood in the Forth would be disastrous, and could end up causing billions of pounds worth of damage: “Imagine a situation in which the whole of Scotland suddenly has power cuts, no petrol or diesel supplies, no gas, and only limited food supplies. Imagine this continues for months.”…

A view of the Firth of Forth from Calton Hill in Ediburgh Scotland.gren supplied this shot for the public domain

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