During the deluge that hit first the Lake District and then much of the rest of the north of England at the turn of the year, I am sure I was not alone in hoping that this would mark the end of the rain. So much water descended in such a short period that we seemed to have had a whole year’s rainfall by the end of the first week in January.

But, as we all now know, this was considerably too optimistic.

I really can’t remember a time when the water table locally has been so high for so long. Even during the period when the Somerset Levels were submerged for weeks, West Dorset seemed drier than it does at present.

I hope it isn’t tempting fate to say that we haven’t, so far, experienced anything like what has afflicted some parts of the west and the north. And we have also, so far at least, avoided the combination of fluvial, surface water and sea-storm flooding that can prove so damaging for our coastal settlements.

But it has been, and remains a continuing concern.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, some straightforward measures – such as the reconfiguration of the bridge at Charminster – clearly achieved a good deal just through simple engineering (admittedly at considerable cost). And I am delighted to see that engineering projects like the pinning of the land above the tunnel at Beaminster and of much of the coastline at Lyme Regis seem to be doing their work admirably well when faced with prolonged adversity.

But I think it is becoming increasingly clear that the nation is not going to be able to provide itself with sufficient long-term protection on an affordable basis just by undertaking the massive further investment programme of engineering works that is now scheduled.

We are going to need to plan really seriously for a restoration of natural capital to slow down the water cycle by planting trees and making other landscape adjustments to our various water catchments over the next couple of decades.