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Robigus

Member
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/wildlife/article3991043.ece
Pay locals to go and leave Levels alone, say wildlife groups

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awww.thetimes.co.uk_tto_multimedia_archive_00514_f9b8bd36_89f4_11e3__514429c.jpg


Campaigners are aginst dredging the Somerset Levels Times photographer Tom Pilston

Ben WebsterEnvironment Editor

Published at 12:01AM, January 31 2014

Farmland in parts of the Somerset Levels should either be abandoned to nature or converted to less intensive forms of farming that can cope with regular flooding, wildlife groups claim.

They fear that the deepening political row over villages cut off for a month will push the Government into approving a major programme of river dredging, which would destroy the habitat of wetland wildlife.

The groups argue that it would be cheaper to pay some people to move and compensate them for their land rather than fund expensive drainage systems on a flood plain.

A senior member of one wildlife group said: “The Levels could be the Camargue or the Everglades of England. But we cannot say that publicly because people there are understandably very angry and upset.”

The RSPB and the Somerset Wildlife Trust, which own several thousand acres of the Levels, issued a statement yesterday calling on the Government to limit the amount of dredging and to “plan and enable land-use change to provide more space for water”.

Mark Robins, senior policy officer for the RSPB, said that the charity supported dredging about three miles of the Rivers Tone and Parrett but not the more ambitious dredging programme demanded by many farmers.

He said dredging was “only one tenth of the solution to floods in what is England’s largest lowland flood plain”.

He said that dairy farming was not sustainable on large parts of the Levels because it depended on grassland, which was vulnerable to flooding.

The RSPB wants these farmers to switch to rearing beef herds and other less intensive forms of farming.

“You have farm businesses locked into dairy-style farming, which needs bright green intensive grassland but is incredibly vulnerable [to flooding].

“Over time they could shift out of the lowest part of this sump and make themselves less vulnerable. We are suggesting a land-use change to more flood-resilient grasslands like our nature reserves.” Mr Robins admitted that it would be difficult to persuade some farmers to change. “There are deep cultural issues here and almost sectarian values from those who still hope that the kind of intensive factory floor farming is an opportunity in the Somerset Levels.”

David Leach, landscape manager of the Somerset Wildlife Trust, said that heavy dredging would be devastating for water voles, otters and many species of fish. He said “villages and critical infrastructure” should be protected with better flood defences but in the longer term people living “slap bang in the middle of the flood plain” could be paid to move.

“Instead of the farmers farming it you just treat it as a natural wetland. It fills up with water in winter and gradually goes down in summer. By the time you have added up how much we are paying on pumping, dredging, single farm payments and all the rest, you would be able to buy the land.”

He suggested that farmers who received subsidies for producing food could instead be paid for storing water.

However, Michael Eavis, the founder of the Glastonbury Festival, whose farm at Pilton is on the edge of the Levels, said the problem was that money previously spent on dredging had been diverted into conservation at the behest of organisations such as the RSPB.

He said the Government and its agencies “seem keener to spend millions protecting river oysters, water voles and umpteen species of birds than a single penny on protecting the hardworking families who are just trying to make an honest living from the land”.

Last September, Mr Eavis worked with the Royal Bath and West of England Society to campaign to raise about £4 million to dredge rivers on the Levels. The Society said at the time that lack of dredging meant that rivers were now taking 60 per cent of the water they should be able to manage.

The Environment Agency said last September that it was still “studying proposals” for dredging and that it could only contribute a fraction of the money required.

3 comments

Jeremy A

So we must stop farming our lowlands as it is bad for wildlife, and George Monbiot and his friends think we should stop farming our uplands because it is bad for wildlife. Then we would have to eat each other which I’m sure the wildlife would enjoy.
This land has been farmed for centuries, much of it is reclaimed. The only difference now is that they stopped dredging when the Environment Agency took over from the drainage boards.
Thank goodness for Michael Eavis, at least his voice of common sense can be heard.

Rachel MEINKE

All this arguing! Meanwhile the rain keeps falling!

Robert Hardcastle9 hours ago

The RSPB seem to be completely mad. Another 'charity' not to donate to.
Where do they think they wildlife was when the river was being dredged before?
On the basis of their argument we should have houses no where and let wild animals take over everywhere. These are probably the same liberal minded people who are probably chanting about embracing uncontrolled immigration without even considering where these people are going to live without upsetting the otters.
 

RobFZS

Member
Lol go and tell a village full of people to move and abandon their homes in person and you would get lynched, you can say anything from the confines of a cosy office and keyboard.
 

franklin

New Member
Not to be harsh, but its stuff like this that *will*form government policy. They don't want food. They want places for dog-walkers to wander, and little tweeting birds and badgers. If anyone thinks that govt will do *anything* to help farmers over RSBP/RSPCA/English Heritage then think again.
 

Ley253

Member
Location
Bath
Not to be harsh, but its stuff like this that *will*form government policy. They don't want food. They want places for dog-walkers to wander, and little tweeting birds and badgers. If anyone thinks that govt will do *anything* to help farmers over RSBP/RSPCA/English Heritage then think again.
Not "will" but "is" I read not long ago about a farmer being forced off his land by the deliberate flooding of land on his boundries, he could not go to court as EU law would prevail and there, birds are much more important than people.
I have a feeling that there is a hidden agena in the EA to make the levels impossable to farm and so drive the population away, no one could be so incompetent as to allow floods and do nothing to prevent them!In fact, they are being very competent in ensuring they happen.
In the letters page of the D Mail, there is a mention of an "agenda 21". This agenda needs careful reading, and quickly too.
 

Ley253

Member
Location
Bath
Could be because the river is so choked, that it cant handle the full output of the pumps. But its not good publicity to admit that, and lots of pumps make better photos than one!
 

JP1

Moderator
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/wildlife/article3991043.ece
Pay locals to go and leave Levels alone, say wildlife groups

· View attachment 30008

Campaigners are aginst dredging the Somerset Levels Times photographer Tom Pilston

Ben WebsterEnvironment Editor

Published at 12:01AM, January 31 2014

Farmland in parts of the Somerset Levels should either be abandoned to nature or converted to less intensive forms of farming that can cope with regular flooding, wildlife groups claim.

They fear that the deepening political row over villages cut off for a month will push the Government into approving a major programme of river dredging, which would destroy the habitat of wetland wildlife.

The groups argue that it would be cheaper to pay some people to move and compensate them for their land rather than fund expensive drainage systems on a flood plain.

A senior member of one wildlife group said: “The Levels could be the Camargue or the Everglades of England. But we cannot say that publicly because people there are understandably very angry and upset.”

The RSPB and the Somerset Wildlife Trust, which own several thousand acres of the Levels, issued a statement yesterday calling on the Government to limit the amount of dredging and to “plan and enable land-use change to provide more space for water”.

Mark Robins, senior policy officer for the RSPB, said that the charity supported dredging about three miles of the Rivers Tone and Parrett but not the more ambitious dredging programme demanded by many farmers.

He said dredging was “only one tenth of the solution to floods in what is England’s largest lowland flood plain”.

He said that dairy farming was not sustainable on large parts of the Levels because it depended on grassland, which was vulnerable to flooding.

The RSPB wants these farmers to switch to rearing beef herds and other less intensive forms of farming.

“You have farm businesses locked into dairy-style farming, which needs bright green intensive grassland but is incredibly vulnerable [to flooding].

“Over time they could shift out of the lowest part of this sump and make themselves less vulnerable. We are suggesting a land-use change to more flood-resilient grasslands like our nature reserves.” Mr Robins admitted that it would be difficult to persuade some farmers to change. “There are deep cultural issues here and almost sectarian values from those who still hope that the kind of intensive factory floor farming is an opportunity in the Somerset Levels.”

David Leach, landscape manager of the Somerset Wildlife Trust, said that heavy dredging would be devastating for water voles, otters and many species of fish. He said “villages and critical infrastructure” should be protected with better flood defences but in the longer term people living “slap bang in the middle of the flood plain” could be paid to move.

“Instead of the farmers farming it you just treat it as a natural wetland. It fills up with water in winter and gradually goes down in summer. By the time you have added up how much we are paying on pumping, dredging, single farm payments and all the rest, you would be able to buy the land.”

He suggested that farmers who received subsidies for producing food could instead be paid for storing water.

However, Michael Eavis, the founder of the Glastonbury Festival, whose farm at Pilton is on the edge of the Levels, said the problem was that money previously spent on dredging had been diverted into conservation at the behest of organisations such as the RSPB.

He said the Government and its agencies “seem keener to spend millions protecting river oysters, water voles and umpteen species of birds than a single penny on protecting the hardworking families who are just trying to make an honest living from the land”.

Last September, Mr Eavis worked with the Royal Bath and West of England Society to campaign to raise about £4 million to dredge rivers on the Levels. The Society said at the time that lack of dredging meant that rivers were now taking 60 per cent of the water they should be able to manage.

The Environment Agency said last September that it was still “studying proposals” for dredging and that it could only contribute a fraction of the money required.

3 comments

Jeremy A

So we must stop farming our lowlands as it is bad for wildlife, and George Monbiot and his friends think we should stop farming our uplands because it is bad for wildlife. Then we would have to eat each other which I’m sure the wildlife would enjoy.
This land has been farmed for centuries, much of it is reclaimed. The only difference now is that they stopped dredging when the Environment Agency took over from the drainage boards.
Thank goodness for Michael Eavis, at least his voice of common sense can be heard.

Rachel MEINKE

All this arguing! Meanwhile the rain keeps falling!

Robert Hardcastle9 hours ago

The RSPB seem to be completely mad. Another 'charity' not to donate to.
Where do they think they wildlife was when the river was being dredged before?
On the basis of their argument we should have houses no where and let wild animals take over everywhere. These are probably the same liberal minded people who are probably chanting about embracing uncontrolled immigration without even considering where these people are going to live without upsetting the otters.

I thought some of the beloved SSSI's would be one of the first to be incapable of sustained periods under water?

Michael Eavis spoke in a very reasoned and measured way this morning on R4 Today. Much more rational than Mr Monbiot.

The fact that you can repeat propaganda until it becomes public "consensus" is very worrying and typical of how some with their own agenda operate. I would have thought that the continued use of the moors for livestock grazing and the hills for hill farming would be an absolute plus for the visiting public, the eating public and the health of a sustainable rural community. Monbiot's view of utopia with afforestation on the hills, no upland family farms and economy and food from less environmentally friendly methods just doesn't fit with my view of how man has evolved these landscapes. Could it be the EA have been found wanting and any PR to deflect that is OK?

Hilary Wilson made some very good points in her letter in the FG today

Scan.jpeg
 

Hilly

Member
Cant see what good it does wild life if all their nests and feeding grounds are under water, all the ground living creatures must have drowned long ago
Well maintained and drained tec etc it can be farmed it can have foot paths etc and wild life, flooded its useless unless they want a big boating lake.
 
I suppose the one upside is at least if they are making it official that they want to evict/do clearances on the Levels they are talking about PAYING the farmers compensation. Up until now they have been doing much the same thing slowly and by the back door but with no thought /mention of compensation!!

They are wrong to do it at all of course. There is room for wildlife and farming on the levels and dredging can be part of that, just as is entering into agreements with some farmers to allow land to be flooded instead on a properly compensated basis (full compensation) on a voluntary basis.
 

llamedos

New Member
I thought I had posted this yesterday, must have forgot.

It isnt just the wildlife groups who want a huge bird sanctuary, its may well be part of the gran plan,

http://www.aboutmyarea.co.uk/Somerset/Taunton/TA1/News/Local-News/266617-Drainage-Board’s-10-point-Plan-to-Beat-Flooding-on-the-Somerset-Levels

The IDB's 10-point plan, which would be implemented collaboratively by a partnership involving all the key interests and organisations, is as follows:

  • Maximise the conveyance of the lowland rivers in Somerset and maintain them.
  • Construct a tidal exclusion sluice on the River Parrett as already exists on other rivers in Somerset.
  • All land and property owners in Somerset to contribute to the funding of flood risk management work within their catchments.
  • Increase soil infiltration and store more flood water in the upper catchments.
  • Reduce urban run-off.
  • Promote flood resilience and property level protection in the whole catchment.
  • Promote and assist the relocation of very flood vulnerable households out of the floodplain.
  • Acknowledge and provide assistance to land owners on moors identified as flood storage areas.
  • Provide assistance to farmers and others to adapt their businesses in areas used for flood storage.
  • Assist farms in flood storage moors to become resilient to flooding and provide assistance to relocate intensive farming activities out of the floodplain with assisted land swops.

Relocation is certainly a Key word!
 
And after the Somerset Levels?
Aren't some of our most prolific veg. growing areas in the east, man-made with the use of dykes, sluices and maintained drainage? Or is the overall plan to build houses where possible, and use the rest of the land under agriculture as a playground?

:scratchhead:
 

spikeislander

Member
Location
bedfordshire
I laughed the other day a "expert" was questioned about why there has been no dredging and would it have solved the problem? He said its more complicated than that if they had dredged it would have just caused problems further down stream . "NO S**T SHERLOCK" its no different to ditching you dont just start in the middle! start at the sea and work in .
 

Gulli

Member
Location
Somerset
What a fudgeing bunch of pansies!

Less intensive forms of farming like beef. As they grow so well underwater...

It appears that we need to create wetlands for birds but to hell with all the other wildlife.

Some people just need a good slap
 

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