Olduvaiblog: Musings on the coming collapse

Home » Posts tagged 'Scotland'

Tag Archives: Scotland

Are Nation States Beginning to Splinter? |

Are Nation States Beginning to Splinter? |.

March 24, 2014 | Author 
The Counterrevolution to the EU’s Centralization

Venice just held a ‘non-binding’ referendum on whether the city should once again become an independent city-state and secede from Italy. An astonishing 89% voted ‘yes’ (which makes the outcome of the Crimea referendum no longer look ‘strangely one-sided’). This happens just as Scotland’s vote whether to remain part of the UK is approaching and Catalonia is preparing to vote whether to remain with Spain.

“Venetians have voted overwhelmingly for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy.

Inspired by Scotland’s separatist ambitions, 89 per cent of the residents of the lagoon city and its surrounding area, opted to break away from Italy in an unofficial ballot.

The proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ would include the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and could later expand to include parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The floating city has only been part of Italy for 150 years. The 1000 year–old democratic Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, was quashed by Napoleon and was subsumed into Italy in 1866. 

Wealthy Venetians, under mounting financial pressure in the economic crisis, have rallied in their thousands, after growing tired of supporting Italy’s poor and crime ridden Mezzogiorno south, through high taxation.

Activists have been working closely with the SNP on their joint agendas, even travelling to Scotland alongside Catalonians and Basque separatists to take part in pro independence rallies. Campaigners say that the Rome government receives around 71 billion euros  each year in tax from Venice – some 21 billion euros less than it gets back in investment and services.

Organisers said that 2.36million, 73 per cent, of those eligible to take part voted in the poll, which is not recognised by the Rome government. The ballot also appointed a committee of ten who immediately declared independence from Italy. Venice may now start withholding taxes from Rome.”

(emphasis added)

And while the Scottish and Catalan pro-independence forces are toying with the idea of joining the EU, there is another part of Italy that wants to secede as well and wants to definitely get out of the EU – in fact, this goal appears to be one of its motives. The island of Sardinia – which contrary to Venice is actually quite a poor place – wants to leave Italy and join Switzerland instead (this would of course be a brilliant move for the Sardinians):

 

“As familiar as it is, however, the secessionist spirit has never manifested itself in quite the way a small group of activists is advocating in Sardinia. Angered by a system they say has squandered economic potential and disenfranchised the ordinary citizen, they have had enough. They want Rome to sell their island to the Swiss.

“People laugh when we say we should go to become part of Switzerland. That’s to be expected,” said Andrea Caruso, co-founder of the Canton Marittimo (Maritime Canton) movement. While many have dismissed the proposal as a joke, its supporters insist they are serious. “The madness does not lie in putting forward this kind of suggestion,” said Caruso. “The madness lies in how things are now.”

A ruggedly beautiful gem in the middle of the Mediterranean, Sardinia – one of Italy’s five autonomous regions – has always had a strong identity of its own. DH Lawrence, visiting in 1921, described it as “belonging to nowhere, never having belonged to anywhere”. For a minority of Sardinians, independence remains the island’s best chance for success. Caruso and Enrico Napoleone, the two 50-year-old school friends behind Canton Marittimo, disagree with them. After decades of keeping faith in Rome, they now believe that staying in Italy can do no good- but fear that going it alone could end badly, too.

The answer, they say, lies more than 1,000km to the north. “Having good teachers is something which in life everyone considers positive. We don’t educate our children at home; we try to find the best teacher in the school,” said Caruso, a dentist from Cagliari. “Why, when we have this mentality with our children, do we have to renounce it when talking of our people? “We think of Switzerland as a good teacher who could lead us on a path of excellence.”

As the 27th canton, Sardinia, so goes the argument, would bring the Swiss its miles of stunning coastline and untapped economic potential. Sardinia could retain considerable autonomy, while also reaping the benefits of direct democracy, administrative efficiency and economic wealth.

The fact that Switzerland is not in the EU is “definitely” a plus, say the activists. Like many Italians, they no longer believe in Brussels’s ability to deliver the dream – both economic and cultural – they once thought it could.

(emphasis added)

One of these days, one of the secessionist movements in Europe is likely to succeed and then a domino effect may be let loose. The Crimea’s recent change of allegiance has probably energized these movements further.

Italian-states-before-unification

Italian States prior to Italy’s unification – click to enlarge.

Anachronism Nation State

And it is about time, too. The concept of the centralized, large-scale nation state is anachronistic and should be abandoned. The increasing centralization of the EU is going in the wrong direction. Once again it must be stressed that for the individual citizen, it matters not one whit whether self-important EU politicians and bureaucrats can ‘throw around their weight on the international stage’.

What matters far more is that they would likely be treated a lot better and become more prosperous if everything fell apart into tiny independent territories. That would definitely not mean that there could be no free trade zone, or that every region would necessarily use a different currency. The main goals of the founders of the EU, namely free trade and free movement of capital and people need not be abandoned – on the contrary, they would likely be adopted without hesitation (see below why). When a great many small territories compete with each other for citizens, then they are all going to be forced to make a good offer that makes people want to stay. Large declines in taxes would be an immediate effect, but not the only effect that could be expected.

As Hans-Hermann Hoppe points out in this interview, the unification of the German states (Germany consisted of over 360 independent territories before 1794, and 39 were still left prior to the 1871 unification) was in many ways a big mistake in hindsight:

Q: “You want a return to “Kleinstaaterei”, the system of mini-countries of the 19th Century?

A: “Take a look at the economic and cultural development. In the 19th century the area of what Germany is today was then the leading region in Europe. The major cultural achievements came at a time when there was no great central state. The small territories were in intense competition with each other. Everyone wanted to have the best libraries, theaters and universities. This region was significantly more advanced culturally and intellectually than France, which by then was already centralized. All culture in France is focused on Paris, the rest of the country fell into cultural obscurity.”

Q: ‘But free trade would be threatened by secession and a return to fragmented nations

A:  On the contrary. Small states have to trade. Their market is not big enough and they are not diversified enough to live independently. If they are not running free trade, they are finished after a week. However, a large country like America can be largely self-sufficient and is therefore less dependent on free exchange with other states. In addition, small and sovereign states cannot permanently dump the blame on others when something goes wrong with them. In the EU, Brussels is often blamed for all sorts of ills. In independent small states governments would, however, have to take responsibility for abuses in their own country. This has a pacifying effect on the relations among nations.”

Q: “If small states have their own currencies, that would be the end of the integration of capital markets.”

A: Small states could not afford their own currencies because of the transaction costs. They would therefore strive for a common currency that is independent of and uninfluenced by the individual governments. There is a high probability that they would agree on a commodity money such as gold or silver, whose value is determined in the market. Kleinstaaterei leads to more market and less state intervention in the monetary system.”

Q: “If Europe were a collection of small states then on the international stage it would have no economic clout next to the large states.”

A: “How then do Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Singapore manage to be economically at the top? My impression is that these countries are wealthier than Germany and that the Germans were wealthy before they embarked on the adventure of the euro. We should free ourselves from the idea that business takes place between states. Business takes place between people and companies that produce here and there. Economies don’t consist of states competing against states but companies against companies. It is not the size of a country that determines its prosperity, but the ability of its citizens.”

(emphasis added)

Indeed, the facts support every one of Hoppe’s contentions.

Secession Brought to its Ultimate Conclusion

In ‘Power and Market’, Murray Rothbard discusses among other things whether the free market could provide judiciary, police and defense services. In this section of the book there is also an interesting remark on secession. Rothbard not unreasonably asks why it is e.g. not held that Canada and the US are in a ‘state of anarchy’ relative to each other. After all, they don’t have a single, centralized government. Why is it fine for Canada to be independent, but not, say for Texas? However, he follows this thought further to its ultimate conclusion:

 

“[…] once one concedes that a single world government is not necessary, then where does one logically stop at the permissibility of separate states? If Canada and the United States can be separate nations without being denounced as being in a state of impermissible “anarchy,” why may not the South secede from the United States? New York State from the Union? New York City from the state? Why may not Manhattan secede? Each neighborhood? Each block? Each house? Each person? But, of course, if each person may secede from government, we have virtually arrived at the purely free society, where defense is supplied along with all other services by the free market and where the invasive State has ceased to exist.”

 

(emphasis in original)

Indeed, there is no reason why one could not arrive at a stateless society at some point. Small territories such as those Germany consisted of prior to 1794 could probably no longer really be called ‘states’ anyway.

 

Ger1871

Germany prior to the 1871 unification – 39 independent states (and they all used precious metals as money, so it didn’t matter whose face was on the money – it was a unified currency anyway).

Are Nation States Beginning to Splinter? |

Are Nation States Beginning to Splinter? |.

March 24, 2014 | Author 
The Counterrevolution to the EU’s Centralization

Venice just held a ‘non-binding’ referendum on whether the city should once again become an independent city-state and secede from Italy. An astonishing 89% voted ‘yes’ (which makes the outcome of the Crimea referendum no longer look ‘strangely one-sided’). This happens just as Scotland’s vote whether to remain part of the UK is approaching and Catalonia is preparing to vote whether to remain with Spain.

“Venetians have voted overwhelmingly for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy.

Inspired by Scotland’s separatist ambitions, 89 per cent of the residents of the lagoon city and its surrounding area, opted to break away from Italy in an unofficial ballot.

The proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ would include the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and could later expand to include parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The floating city has only been part of Italy for 150 years. The 1000 year–old democratic Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, was quashed by Napoleon and was subsumed into Italy in 1866. 

Wealthy Venetians, under mounting financial pressure in the economic crisis, have rallied in their thousands, after growing tired of supporting Italy’s poor and crime ridden Mezzogiorno south, through high taxation.

Activists have been working closely with the SNP on their joint agendas, even travelling to Scotland alongside Catalonians and Basque separatists to take part in pro independence rallies. Campaigners say that the Rome government receives around 71 billion euros  each year in tax from Venice – some 21 billion euros less than it gets back in investment and services.

Organisers said that 2.36million, 73 per cent, of those eligible to take part voted in the poll, which is not recognised by the Rome government. The ballot also appointed a committee of ten who immediately declared independence from Italy. Venice may now start withholding taxes from Rome.”

(emphasis added)

And while the Scottish and Catalan pro-independence forces are toying with the idea of joining the EU, there is another part of Italy that wants to secede as well and wants to definitely get out of the EU – in fact, this goal appears to be one of its motives. The island of Sardinia – which contrary to Venice is actually quite a poor place – wants to leave Italy and join Switzerland instead (this would of course be a brilliant move for the Sardinians):

 

“As familiar as it is, however, the secessionist spirit has never manifested itself in quite the way a small group of activists is advocating in Sardinia. Angered by a system they say has squandered economic potential and disenfranchised the ordinary citizen, they have had enough. They want Rome to sell their island to the Swiss.

“People laugh when we say we should go to become part of Switzerland. That’s to be expected,” said Andrea Caruso, co-founder of the Canton Marittimo (Maritime Canton) movement. While many have dismissed the proposal as a joke, its supporters insist they are serious. “The madness does not lie in putting forward this kind of suggestion,” said Caruso. “The madness lies in how things are now.”

A ruggedly beautiful gem in the middle of the Mediterranean, Sardinia – one of Italy’s five autonomous regions – has always had a strong identity of its own. DH Lawrence, visiting in 1921, described it as “belonging to nowhere, never having belonged to anywhere”. For a minority of Sardinians, independence remains the island’s best chance for success. Caruso and Enrico Napoleone, the two 50-year-old school friends behind Canton Marittimo, disagree with them. After decades of keeping faith in Rome, they now believe that staying in Italy can do no good- but fear that going it alone could end badly, too.

The answer, they say, lies more than 1,000km to the north. “Having good teachers is something which in life everyone considers positive. We don’t educate our children at home; we try to find the best teacher in the school,” said Caruso, a dentist from Cagliari. “Why, when we have this mentality with our children, do we have to renounce it when talking of our people? “We think of Switzerland as a good teacher who could lead us on a path of excellence.”

As the 27th canton, Sardinia, so goes the argument, would bring the Swiss its miles of stunning coastline and untapped economic potential. Sardinia could retain considerable autonomy, while also reaping the benefits of direct democracy, administrative efficiency and economic wealth.

The fact that Switzerland is not in the EU is “definitely” a plus, say the activists. Like many Italians, they no longer believe in Brussels’s ability to deliver the dream – both economic and cultural – they once thought it could.

(emphasis added)

One of these days, one of the secessionist movements in Europe is likely to succeed and then a domino effect may be let loose. The Crimea’s recent change of allegiance has probably energized these movements further.

Italian-states-before-unification

Italian States prior to Italy’s unification – click to enlarge.

Anachronism Nation State

And it is about time, too. The concept of the centralized, large-scale nation state is anachronistic and should be abandoned. The increasing centralization of the EU is going in the wrong direction. Once again it must be stressed that for the individual citizen, it matters not one whit whether self-important EU politicians and bureaucrats can ‘throw around their weight on the international stage’.

What matters far more is that they would likely be treated a lot better and become more prosperous if everything fell apart into tiny independent territories. That would definitely not mean that there could be no free trade zone, or that every region would necessarily use a different currency. The main goals of the founders of the EU, namely free trade and free movement of capital and people need not be abandoned – on the contrary, they would likely be adopted without hesitation (see below why). When a great many small territories compete with each other for citizens, then they are all going to be forced to make a good offer that makes people want to stay. Large declines in taxes would be an immediate effect, but not the only effect that could be expected.

As Hans-Hermann Hoppe points out in this interview, the unification of the German states (Germany consisted of over 360 independent territories before 1794, and 39 were still left prior to the 1871 unification) was in many ways a big mistake in hindsight:

Q: “You want a return to “Kleinstaaterei”, the system of mini-countries of the 19th Century?

A: “Take a look at the economic and cultural development. In the 19th century the area of what Germany is today was then the leading region in Europe. The major cultural achievements came at a time when there was no great central state. The small territories were in intense competition with each other. Everyone wanted to have the best libraries, theaters and universities. This region was significantly more advanced culturally and intellectually than France, which by then was already centralized. All culture in France is focused on Paris, the rest of the country fell into cultural obscurity.”

Q: ‘But free trade would be threatened by secession and a return to fragmented nations

A:  On the contrary. Small states have to trade. Their market is not big enough and they are not diversified enough to live independently. If they are not running free trade, they are finished after a week. However, a large country like America can be largely self-sufficient and is therefore less dependent on free exchange with other states. In addition, small and sovereign states cannot permanently dump the blame on others when something goes wrong with them. In the EU, Brussels is often blamed for all sorts of ills. In independent small states governments would, however, have to take responsibility for abuses in their own country. This has a pacifying effect on the relations among nations.”

Q: “If small states have their own currencies, that would be the end of the integration of capital markets.”

A: Small states could not afford their own currencies because of the transaction costs. They would therefore strive for a common currency that is independent of and uninfluenced by the individual governments. There is a high probability that they would agree on a commodity money such as gold or silver, whose value is determined in the market. Kleinstaaterei leads to more market and less state intervention in the monetary system.”

Q: “If Europe were a collection of small states then on the international stage it would have no economic clout next to the large states.”

A: “How then do Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Singapore manage to be economically at the top? My impression is that these countries are wealthier than Germany and that the Germans were wealthy before they embarked on the adventure of the euro. We should free ourselves from the idea that business takes place between states. Business takes place between people and companies that produce here and there. Economies don’t consist of states competing against states but companies against companies. It is not the size of a country that determines its prosperity, but the ability of its citizens.”

(emphasis added)

Indeed, the facts support every one of Hoppe’s contentions.

Secession Brought to its Ultimate Conclusion

In ‘Power and Market’, Murray Rothbard discusses among other things whether the free market could provide judiciary, police and defense services. In this section of the book there is also an interesting remark on secession. Rothbard not unreasonably asks why it is e.g. not held that Canada and the US are in a ‘state of anarchy’ relative to each other. After all, they don’t have a single, centralized government. Why is it fine for Canada to be independent, but not, say for Texas? However, he follows this thought further to its ultimate conclusion:

 

“[…] once one concedes that a single world government is not necessary, then where does one logically stop at the permissibility of separate states? If Canada and the United States can be separate nations without being denounced as being in a state of impermissible “anarchy,” why may not the South secede from the United States? New York State from the Union? New York City from the state? Why may not Manhattan secede? Each neighborhood? Each block? Each house? Each person? But, of course, if each person may secede from government, we have virtually arrived at the purely free society, where defense is supplied along with all other services by the free market and where the invasive State has ceased to exist.”

 

(emphasis in original)

Indeed, there is no reason why one could not arrive at a stateless society at some point. Small territories such as those Germany consisted of prior to 1794 could probably no longer really be called ‘states’ anyway.

 

Ger1871

Germany prior to the 1871 unification – 39 independent states (and they all used precious metals as money, so it didn’t matter whose face was on the money – it was a unified currency anyway).

89% of Venetians Vote for Independence

89% of Venetians Vote for Independence

Inspired by Scotland’s hopes for independence and hot on the heels of Crime’a 95% preference for accession to Russia, 89% of the citizens of Venice voted for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy. As The Daily Mail reports, the proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ includes the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and has been largely driven by the wealthy ‘who are tired of supporting the poor and crime-ridden south’ (Venice pays EUR71bn in taxes and receives only EUR21bn in services and investment). The ballot appointed a committee of ten who immediately declared independence from Italy. Venice may now start withholding taxes from RomeWonder why the US, Europe, and Japan have not announced the referendum “illegal” and announced sanctions yet?

Via The Daily Mail,

Venetians have voted overwhelmingly for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy.

Inspired by Scotland’s separatist ambitions, 89 per cent of the residents of the lagoon city and its surrounding area, opted to break away from Italy in an unofficial ballot.

The proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ would include the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and could later expand to include parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Wealthy Venetians, under mounting financial pressure in the economic crisis, have rallied in their thousands, after growing tired of supporting Italy’s poor and crime ridden Mezzogiorno south, through high taxation.

Campaigners say that the Rome government receives around 71 billion euros  each year in tax from Venice – some 21 billion euros less than it gets back in investment and services.

The ballot also appointed a committee of ten who immediately declared independence from Italy. Venice may now start withholding taxes from Rome.

Campaigner Paolo Bernardini, professor of European history at the University of Insubria in Como, northern Italy, said it was ‘high time’ for Venice to become an autonomous state once again.

‘Although history never repeats itself, we are now experiencing a strong return of little nations, small and prosperous countries, able to interact among each other in the global world.’

‘The Venetian people realized that we are a nation (worthy of) self-rule and openly oppressed, and the entire world is moving towards fragmentation – a positive fragmentation – where local traditions mingle with global exchanges.’

‘We are only at the Big Bang of the movement – but revolutions are born of hunger and we are now hungry. Venice can now escape.’

So how long will it before Barosso, Van Rompuy, Obama, Abe and th rest declare this referendum “illegal” and seek sanctions against the people of Venice…

Brian Monteith: Separation may tear us to pieces – The Scotsman

Brian Monteith: Separation may tear us to pieces – The Scotsman.

Nelson, victorious at Trafalgar  and his fighting men were Scots. Picture: Getty

  • by BRIAN MONTEITH
 Published on the16February

Proud Scots have made Britain great, so we have nothing to fear from any continuation of the Union, writes Brian Monteith

The demand from Yes campaigners for the No campaign to be more positive and offer a positive vision of Scotland’s future has been repeated so often that it has now become a tiresome cliché. It is all the more ironic then that the greatest advocates of the positive case for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom are in fact Yes campaigners and politicians themselves.

We see it all the time by the way advocates of independence define what they mean. We shall retain the Queen as our head of state instead of being offered the choice to become a republic. We shall, they insist, remain members of the European Union instead of being offered the choice to be like Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and limit ourselves to being European trading partners. We shall apply to join Nato to have a mutually assured defence structure that will involve exercises with the RAF, Royal Navy and British Army regiments instead of being neutral and outside any military alliance.

We are still being told we shall have a currency union although it can now be seen that it is absolutely beyond the power of the SNP to deliver it formally. We are also told that we shall maintain our social union despite the fact that charging the thousands of English, Welsh and Northern Irish students for university fees is not only illegal within the EU but is also certain to create a significant grievance in the continuing UK if we do not charge Germans, Greeks or Spaniards the same fees.

So there we have it: being in the United Kingdom has given us many strong and positive advantages. We have a highly stable and well respected constitutional monarchy that provides a reassuring and unifying stability, while politicians come and go and fall in and out of fashion.

We have been members of the European Union for some 40 years and Nato for more than 60 – bringing openness, economic growth, democracy and security to which other nations have aspired and queued up to join.

Our own common currency provides a means of exchange redeemable throughout the land that suits us better than using a foreign coinage and gives us a flexibility in the world economy that is the envy of so many nations that made the mistake of joining the euro.

And we have a social union that after not just years or decades, but centuries of wars, battles, and bloody invasions (by either side), has encouraged us to migrate, intermingle, forge familial bonds and establish through perseverance and endeavour great successes in commerce, culture, science and politics. There are communities, even towns south of the Border, that are thought of as being essentially Scottish. The extent to which our social union became possible in the United Kingdom, despite further civil wars where Scots themselves were divided, is taken for granted nowadays, just as the huge role we played in establishing what was to become the British Empire and then latterly the Commonwealth is often forgotten.

Some intentionally provocative and disrespectful nationalists like to call the Union flag the butchers’ apron, conveniently avoiding the fact that if there were indeed any butchers, they were as likely to be Scots as anyone else. Key events in our British history, such as the Battle of Trafalgar, had a disproportionately large number of Scots while we all know the names of great Scots who helped shape the modern world.

The idea we are so subservient, passive and lacking in confidence within our great social union as to be unable to lead men to make the greatest of sacrifices, discover the unknown, develop new ideas, forge new enterprises, build lasting and enviable institutions – and yes, run our country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – because we are Scots and not born to do so is the worst example of the Scottish cringe.

Was I dreaming when that Scottish son of the manse, Gordon Brown, became British prime minister and was widely accepted at the time by an English-dominated Labour Party? Brown was hardly born to run the country.

Maybe I imagined that Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, that humble bungalow lad from Paisley Terrace nestling in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, became the Labour Party’s longest-serving prime minister and the only person to lead that party to three consecutive general election victories. He was hardly born to run the UK: the second son of Leo, an illegitimate child of two English actors who was adopted and raised by a Glaswegian shipyard worker James Blair. Such are the bloodlines of our social union that has seen Scotsmen and women go on through their own endeavour to achieve great things and be accepted north and south of the old Border.

Did Alistair Darling not follow Brown as chancellor, was the late Robin Cook not Foreign Secretary and did George Robertson and John Reid not hold high Cabinet rank along with many other Scots? Would John Smith – that Dunoon Grammar School lad – not have become prime minister but for his untimely death in 1994?

Then let us not forget Edinburgh’s George Watson’s boy Malcolm Rifkind, hewn from Jewish Lithuanian immigrant stock – hardly a traditional Scottish background – who rose to become Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary. Or how about John Cowperthwaite who, in the 1960s, made Hong Kong what it is today?

And it doesn’t just end there, for Scots in Britain are hardly shrinking violets in other fields – from Govan’s Alex Ferguson in sport, who managed possibly the best-known football team in the world, to Stonehaven’s John Reith, who built the BBC into the envy of the world. Neither they nor many others like them – the list is as inspiring as it is long – were born to run or shape British institutions, but they had the opportunity and the Union made it possible.

It is this social union that I fear for most. As we now see that the continuing UK can and will have different interests from Scots and Scotland – and has every right to pursue them – new grievances will tear us apart. What’s positive about that?

UK’s worst winter storms for two decades set to continue | UK news | theguardian.com

UK’s worst winter storms for two decades set to continue | UK news | theguardian.com.

The riverside at Tewkesbury, where the Severn has burst its banks

The riverside at Tewkesbury, where the Severn has burst its banks. Photograph: Dougscycles Ashburn/Corbis

Britain remains in the grip of the worst run of winter storms for two decades, with 96 flood warnings in place throughout England and Wales and a further 244 areas put on flood alert.

Coastal areas – particularly in southern England – are most vulnerable because of unusually high tides and the arrival of a strong Atlantic storm.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings of ice and rain, predicting river and surface flooding as well as travel disruption, mainly in south Wales and the south-west and south-east of England. Up to 40mm of rain could fall on higher ground.

Inland rainfall will put pressure on rivers, endangering nearby communities including those along the river Medway in Kent, the river Thames in Oxford and Osney, and the river Severn estuary in Gloucestershire.

The Thames barrier will remain closed to protect land near the river.

Matt Dobson, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said the rain “simply has nowhere to go” because weeks of severe weather had left the ground waterlogged and rivers rising over their banks.

“It’s very unusual to have so many powerful storms come in one after the other in such a short space of time; we haven’t seen anything like this since about 1991,” he said.

“The nasty weather of the last few days is going to continue across the UK, with the combination of high tides and a powerful storm putting coastal areas particularly at risk.

“Any rain will mean more flooding as the ground is saturated and swollen rivers are coming up against strong waves.”

The strong winds, persistent rain and tidal waves are predicted to batter the UK for at least another two days, as emergency services attempt to cope with the trail of devastation already created by the severe weather.

More than 200 homes have been flooded from Cornwall to Scotland, with miles of coastline affected and roads and fields across the country left under water.

Two people have already died in the storms: a 27-year-old man from Surrey was found on Porthleven Sands beach in Cornwall after he was swept out to sea on New Year’s Eve night, and a woman died after being rescued from the sea in Croyde Bay, north Devon.

Dozens of volunteers in south Devon have resumed their search for missing 18-year-old student Harry Martin, who was last seen leaving his home to take photographs of the weather.

Officials around the country have pleaded with people to keep away from coastal areas, where waves up to 40ft high have lashed the land.

A man and child were almost swept away by a huge wave at Mullion Cove in Cornwall as they peered over the sea wall to watch the raging sea, and elsewhere in Cornwall vehicles driving on a coastal road were swamped and almost washed away by a tidal surge.

In Aberystwyth, a man was rescued by lifeboat after he defied police warnings and became trapped when photographing waves from a harbour jetty. Aberystwyth University has deferred the start of the examination period by one week and is advising students not to travel to the coastal town until the middle of next week.

Debris was strewn across the town’s promenade, while rail lines in north Wales were left buckled by the power of the sea and a road collapsed in Amroth, Pembrokeshire.

The strong tides were said to be the worst to batter the Welsh coast in 15 years.

Emergency services rescued four people from a flooded farm in Llanbedr near Barmouth, north-west Wales, the river Severn burst its banks in Gloucestershire for the second day running and a pregnant woman was rescued after 30 properties were flooded in Cardigan, mid-Wales. Part of the sea wall behind the Landmark theatre in Ilfracombe collapsed because of the storms.

The coastal surge in recent days has tested over 3,000km of flood defences in England.

Trains have also suffered disruption with services in west Wales and from Newport and Bristol to the south coast affected by the weather. There were also delays at the Port of Dover because of force five winds.

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, warned that more bad weather was on the way and said he had chaired a meeting of all government departments to ensure all the necessary preparations were in place.

“Our flood defences have worked very well and have protected 205,000 homes at risk,” he said.

“I’d like to thank the Environment Agency, local councils, public utilities and emergency services who have worked tirelessly over the last week. I’d also like to thank soldiers from 36 Engineer Regiment and 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles who have helped to fill additional sandbags today in Kent.”

Paterson also urged those in risk areas to sign up to Environment Agency warnings and heed any advice that was issued.

However, the government’s flood-control strategy has been criticised after it emerged that an estimated 1,700 jobs are to be axed at the Environment Agency, with 550 staff from the floods team to go.

Paterson said frontline flood defences would be protected after the EA’s chief executive Paul Leinster said risk maintenance would be “impacted” and work on flood warnings would “have to be resized”.

Leslie Manasseh, the deputy general secretary of trade union Prospect, has called on the government to stop the cuts.

“Last week David Cameron praised Environment Agency staff for doing an amazing job with the floods and extreme weather. It’s typical that as soon as there is a crisis, the politicians immediately turn to the specialists and professionals with the scientific knowledge and skills to step in and protect the public,” he said.

Violent storms batter UK triggering emergency response | UK news | The Guardian

Violent storms batter UK triggering emergency response | UK news | The Guardian.

Allonby

Heavy seas and high tides batter the village of Allonby in Cumbria. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Two people were killed, dozens were injured and thousands of residents were rescued or fled from their homes on Thursday as the UK was battered by powerful winds and seaside communities were threatened by the worst storm surge for more than 60 years.

The government’s emergency Cobra committee met twice and local emergency plans swung into operation as the surge threatened to engulf areas of the east coast of England from Northumberland to Kent plus parts of the north-west from Cumbria to Cheshire as well as communities in north Wales.

Emergency services and local authorities advised more than 15,000 people to leave their homes on the east coast of England. Some were due to spend a worrying night with relatives or in emergency rest centres, although many others refused to move, insisting they would stay to protect their properties.

By Thursday evening, more than 40 severe flood warnings – indicating danger to life – had been issued by the Environment Agency, which said the surge could be worse than in 1953 when more than 300 people died and 24,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

However, the agency was confident that modern flood defences including the Thames and Hull barriers and more efficient warning systems meant such disaster would be averted this time.

The Met Office said the winds were calming but the danger of a storm surge would remain into Friday and snow or ice could also cause problems in the north of England and Scotland.

John Curtin, the Environment Agency’s head of incident management, said: “Flooding of coastal communities along the eastern and north west coasts is expected into Friday. Some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a large tidal surge.”

The Ministry of Defence was represented at the Cobra meetings and military personnel were standing by ready to help with the rescue effort if needed.

The high winds (a gust of 142mph was recorded over high ground in central Scotland) brought down power lines leaving tens of thousands of households without electricity in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.

There was also misery for travellers with train services and flights cancelled or delayed. Motorists faced hazardous driving conditions and ferries were disrupted.

According to the Met Office, the problem was caused by a combination of the strong winds, low pressure and high tides. The wind was strong enough to cause water to “pile up” on to some coastlines. Low pressure associated with an Atlantic storm allowed the sea surface to rise temporarily. This combined with high tides to create the surge. Parts of the North Sea are particularly prone to storm surges partly because water flowing into the shallower southern end cannot escape quickly through the narrow Dover Strait and English Channel.

It was the wind rather than the surge that led to the two deaths. One man was killed when he was struck by a tree blown down by the gusts as he rode a mobility scooter through a park in Retford, Nottinghamshire, in the early afternoon.

Earlier, a driver died when his HGV toppled on to a number of cars in West Lothian. Four other people were treated for minor injuries.

Other motorists had lucky escapes. In Birmingham, care worker Muhammad Sial described how his car was crushed by a tree moments after he got out of it. “I just got to the front door and turned to look back and the tree had smashed my car,” he said.

The wind was so strong that people were blown off their feet in some places. In Birmingham’s city centre, a pedestrian was taken to hospital with serious injuries after being hit by falling glass from a window. Two people were also hurt when the roof blew off one of the huts in the city’s popular German Christmas market. A few miles away in Walsall, West Midlands, neighbours had to lift a tree that had toppled on to a man. He was taken to hospital where he was treated for back and neck injuries.

There were some worrying moments for air travellers. A flight to Glasgow was forced to abort two landing attempts in Scotland before being diverted to Manchester. Passenger Hazel Bedford, a charity worker, said: “I’m feeling really lucky to be alive. An awful lot of people were being sick but the plane, it was incredibly quiet. All I could think of was my new year’s resolution this year, which was to write my own will, and I haven’t done it. I was absolutely terrified.”

In Rhyl in north Wales, 40 residents – and six dogs – were ferried to safety by teams from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and North Wales fire and rescue service. About 400 people in all left their homes in the resort.

As the violent weather moved south from Scotland during the day, police and other emergency services were trying to evacuate thousands of residents on the east coast. They were being asked to move inland and stay with relatives if possible – and local authorities were also opening emergency shelters in leisure centres and schools. Norfolk’s deputy chief constable Charlie Hall said: “We understand people may be anxious, but we would like to reassure residents that Norfolk has tried and tested flood response plans which are being put in place, in line with Environment Agency advice.”

Many said they would not leave. Anne Edwards, of Great Yarmouth, said: “We’re staying put. The house we live in was flooded in 1953 and there’s a four-and-a-half foot-high water line in the dining room from then. We always knew we might be at risk of flooding, so there is a camping stove upstairs and we have water and cans of food. I’ve got my wellies ready.”

In Sandwich, Kent, residents were sent a message by the Environment Agency reading: “Severe Flooding. Danger to life.” and adding: “Act now to protect yourself, family, neighbours, pets and valuables.”

Police in Jaywick, Essex, asked people who wanted to stay in their homes to sign a disclaimer acknowledging they had been advised to leave. Some said they were worried their homes would be looted if they left.

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, urged people to listen to the emergency services and heed their advice. He said: “These storms are dangerous. I would urge everybody to pay close attention to announcements by the Environment Agency, the department for transport and local government.”

 

Hurricane batters Scotland as Germany braces for storms – World – CBC News

Hurricane batters Scotland as Germany braces for storms – World – CBC News.

A sign in Norddeich, Germany, for the ferry to Norderney island reads "Next departure to Norderney cancelled due to weather." The North Sea beach town was preparying for the arrival of Xaver, expected to bring strong winds and high tides.A sign in Norddeich, Germany, for the ferry to Norderney island reads “Next departure to Norderney cancelled due to weather.” The North Sea beach town was preparying for the arrival of Xaver, expected to bring strong winds and high tides. (Ina Fassbender/Reuters)

Facebook
2
Twitter
0
Share
2
Email

Hurricane-force winds disrupted transport and power supplies in Scotland and threatened coastal flooding in England as they closed on northern Europe in what meteorologists said could be one of the most powerful storms to hit the continent in years.

British authorities announced the Thames Barrier, designed to protect London from flooding during exceptional tides, would close on Thursday night and warned of “the most serious coastal tidal surge for over 60 years in England”. Prime Minister David Cameron called a meeting to discuss strategy.

One person was killed as winds of up to 225 km/hr slammed into parts of the Scottish highlands, Britain’s weather office said. More than 80,000 homes were left without power, according to energy company SSE.

That number was expected to rise with road connections blocked by fallen trees and debris. A lorry driver was killed and four people injured when his vehicle overturned and collided with other vehicles in West Lothian, police said.

Tidal surge predicted

All train services in Scotland were suspended shortly after 8 a.m. local time until further notice due to debris on the tracks caused by storm Xaver. Glasgow’s Central Station was evacuated after part of a glass roof collapsed, ScotRail said.

Low-lying coastal areas in eastern England were particularly vulnerable to a predicted tidal surge. Sea defences have been built up considerably since storms and flooding killed hundreds on the North Sea coast in 1953.

Authorities in Germany’s northern port city of Hamburg have issued warnings about the dangers of the winds, which some forecasters are saying could be as powerful as a deadly storm and ensuing flood that hit the city in 1962 and killed 315.

The city on the Elbe River was preparing for a direct hit by the storm on Thursday. Many schools and Christmas markets were closed as the storm neared and dozens of flights to and from Germany’s second city were cancelled.

Ferries to Germany’s North Sea islands were kept in ports.

Won’t let up

“Xaver has developed into hurricane force and it’ll be quite dangerous along the North Sea shore,” said Andreas Friedrich, a German weather service meteorologist.

“The truly dangerous thing about this storm is that the winds will continue for hours and won’t let up. The danger of coastal flooding is high.”

Friedrich said people were being advised to stay indoors across northern Germany because of the dangers such as trees being toppled and parts of roofs blown off. The weather service has issued an extreme weather warning for the northern states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Bremen.

In Ireland, Northern Ireland Electricity said 6,500 homes were without power after severe gale force winds with gusts of 100 km/h damaged the power network while another 10,000 customers lower power but had their services restored during the night.

 

%d bloggers like this: