Innes Thomson – A day in Brussels

Innes Thomson – A day in Brussels

Image: L to R, Innes Thomson, Marco Bonetti, Claudia Ozalabal, Albert Vermue, Jörg Janning, Godehard Hennies

After some welcome time off, and my thanks to Ian for looking after things whilst I was away, it has been a busy but rewarding resumption of duty. I was sadly unable to get to the UK Irrigation Association’s annual conference in Peterborough but ADA was well represented there through both Henry and Ian taking active parts in the Water Resources East theme for the event. For me, the first trains of Wednesday morning smoothly ( for once ) transported me down the East Coast with reassuring glimpses of various Internal Drainage Districts and familiar rivers on the way. I was heading firstly for a meeting with Defra and then onwards by Eurostar to rendezvous with our German and Dutch EUWMA colleagues in Brussels later that day. I do hope that Brexit doesn’t complicate what was a very efficient way of travelling from London to Brussels, centre-to-centre in 2 hours.

Thursday saw a busy day at the EU’s Environment Directorate General talking about Water Framework Directive (WFD) and nitrates and the Directorate’s plans for both. Not having visited the EU machine in Brussels before, I got a nagging sense that our discussions seemed to be constrained by politics and process rather than pragmatism and whilst the people we saw were very welcoming, committed civil servants, attentive to our views and thoughts, and keen for us to keep in touch, I did feel that nothing can happen quickly there. Perhaps the opportunity presents itself for our government to become much more fleet-of-foot than the EU can be, and show some initiative in applying WFD in the way that ADA and EUWMA believe will deliver much more positive outcome, gain public support and generally create a better, healthier environment for all ?

Friday brings some catch-up time and, of course, the various final checks by the team as we prepare to send the Spring edition of the Gazette off to the publishers, and it should be with you on or shortly after Monday 13th March. Much to her credit, Aimée has really got to grips with the whole production process and I welcome Ian having more time to focus on the more technical issues of importance to us all. I also warmly welcome Heather back to the office after her maternity leave and she will be helping to prepare for an excellent FLOODEX 2017 on May 17th and 18th. Please put the date in your diary and bring a friend too ! Whilst on the subject of FLOODEX, and having just had a pow-wow with our EUWMA friends, another event of interest may be FLOODEX Europe on 31st October and 1st November in Amsterdam. Whilst ADA are not directly involved with the event we do intend to support it and this will be an excellent learning, sharing, CPD occasion with our European colleagues….and Amsterdam could be cheaper to get to than London if you plan far enough ahead.

Thanks also to those of you who have kindly taken the time to write to your MP and/or the Minister about de-maining and the keenness for some areas to see some careful progress on this with mutual agreement across the various partners concerned. I do feel that your support will help give confidence to Defra to enable them to make that next step and ADA will continue to encourage positive progress.

We are slowly increasing peoples’ awareness of the importance of water and, as Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Water is the driver of nature”. How pertinent that is today when we consider how essential the good management of water is for our very existence and wellbeing. Keep up the good work !