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You are here: Science & Environment - Flooding - Somerset Levels Flood Fund set up

Somerset Levels Flood Fund set up

Last updated: 10 Oct 2013

Levels flooding_275_205The Royal Bath & West Society has launched a fund to help reduce the risk of flooding on the Somerset Levels and Moors. The Society's Agricultural Policy group aim to raise £3-4 million to funding dredging on some of the key rivers on the Levels, namely the Rivers Parrett and Tone. The Society sees its role as bringing together the responsible parties, including landowners to ensure that this work is done.

The Levels flooded badly last year leaving farmers unable to plant crops or graze livestock for several months. The deposition of silt within Main Rivers on the Levels and Moors has been identified as contributing to the extent and duration of the floods, with some rivers so silted up in places they are only carrying 60% of the water they used to.

So far funding contributions from Somerset County Council, the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and the Environment Agency have pledged in the region of £1 million towards dredging. The whole life cost of works on the Parrett and Tone has recently been reduced by £1 million to £3.1 million thanks to Somerset Drainage Board Consortium commissioned a Dutch company to investigate the suitability of using novel pumped dredging techniques.

Separate from these dredging proposals the Environment Agency is undertaking some pinch point de-silting works on parts of the Parrett and Tone starting this Autumn with funds drawn from a recovery fund.

 

NFU Viewpoint

De-silting is a significant issue for members on the Somerset Levels and Moors. Whilst, pinch point de-silting provides some short term breathing space, only restoration of the rivers’ design capacity through more significant de-silting works can provide the basis from which to develop a future vision for the Levels and Moors.

To read a detailed update on the work the NFU has been doing on regarding flooding on the Somerset Levels and Moors, please click on 'related documents'.

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It is approximated that 1000 people, out of a population of almost 1000,000, own the majority of land in Somerset. These people are wealthy land owners, including local and national polititians and they are to blame for the flooding in Somerset as a result of the intensive farming methods used on the land. They over graze the land, causing the soil to compact so no water can drain away. They over produce crops on the land, heedlessly ploughing and causing massive quantities of soil to run off into the river systems. They fail to manage the ditch systems on their land causing blockages and backlogs which result in localised flooding after periods of heavy rain. These landowners, the 1000 people, are those who now lobby the councils and governments to make changes, to dredge the ditches and rivers which are already over managed so as to save them from having to into their own pockets. For any rainfall event, the majority of rain which falls down to inundate the land should be soaked away through the soil. We only ever see a fraction of the rainfall flowing into the rivers because most of it (should) simply soak away. The major issue facing the UK at present is that the majority of farmland is being so intensively farmed that the soil is compacted to a solid layer. Water will sit on top of the fields but if you dig down a ft or two you will find dry earth. Why? Because the water simply is not draining away. The landowners are right in one sense; more needs to be done to manage flooding, but it is those 1000 people who own and manage the land that need to make the changes. They need to reduce the amount of cattle grazed per hectare and avoid using fields which are sodden so as to minimize compaction on that land. They need to allow trees to grow, particularly in areas which suffer from flooding which will help to break up the soil. They need to leave buffer strips around ditches or rivers where ploughing or grazing does not occur so as to ensure that some areas are left to drain away the excess water.

Posted By: Bob Lam

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