The excellent photograph on the outside of your special floods edition this week (pictured) shows more clearly than any argument the importance of the flood plains or meadows to the city of Salisbury.  

These large meadows have been kept fallow for millennia so that excess rainfall in this low-lying area can be sopped up and stored until the rivers can cope with the drainage.

There is a mistaken idea that it is the rivers overflowing which causes the flooding when actually it is the other way round.

It is that overly excessive rainfall causes a rise in the water table or groundwater level - so that the water meadows become too waterlogged and they overflow into the rivers.   

Local authorities and residents have tried repeatedly to explain this simple fact to the Planning Department at Wiltshire Council but they are quite unable to grasp the idea and will persist in granting permission for companies to build housing estates on these flood areas. 

Covering large areas of the flood plain with houses, roads and hard landscaping displaces excess water straight into the rivers, making them unable to cope.

How can we persuade the Wiltshire Council authorities that it is extremely unwise to allow building on the flood plains?

Margaret Duncan

Harnham Road, Salisbury

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