The consequences of more severe rain in future will be "catastrophic" for western England, a former senior environmental regulator has warned.

Dave Throup, who was until December the Environment Agency's area manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said his weekend's floods in western England arose from not-unusual levels of rain in Wales – but that worse is likely before long.

He tweeted: "From what I can see a one in one to one in two-year rainfall event in the Welsh mountains has resulted in a one in 20 to one in 50-year flood event on several rivers.

"How can that happen? The consequences of a one in 50-year rainfall event (which is coming) will be catastrophic."

Elsewhere, he said: "Cumulative rainfall in the uplands not particularly unusual."

Yet the river Severn at Shrewsbury has just had its fourth biggest flood ever recorded, "caused by 150mm of rain over five days in upland Wales", Mr Throup said, adding: "Time’s up!"


Responding in a personal capacity, Wye and Usk Foundation chief executive Simon Evans tweeted: "Catchment management needs to change and landowners need to be provided with a financially viable alternative to help rain access the store that is the soil plus basic soils regulations in Wales for the more blatant abuses.

"Current grant structure is passive at best, not thinking about water or catchment at all, but it is tough politics to get Welsh government to stop supporting Welsh farmers to protect England."

However re-tweeting an earlier thread by writer and activist George Monbiot on what appear to be permanent changes to the Welsh upland landscape affecting its ability to retain water, Mr Throup said: "Damage to the uplands may already be done. Not necessarily a reflection of current land use or stocking numbers."