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Royal Society reopens debate on
dredging Somerset Levels

Flooding on Somerset Levels  

27/11/14

Most local residents are happy with improvements made to drainage systems and roads on the Somerset Levels following last year’s disastrous floods. But scientists from the Royal Society say that intense local lobbying for dredging caused politicians to bypass science.

Professor Paul Bates of Bristol University, one of the scientists preparing the Royal Society report on resilience to extreme weather, told the BBC, ‘This is a massive seasonally-flooded wetland and dredging would have made only a marginal difference. It could even make matters worse if it shunts the water somewhere else.’

Another of the reports authors, Professor Nicholls of Southampton University said, ‘People think, hey - I've got a right not to be flooded. But we can't afford to think like that. Some places you need to learn to live with water, accept mentally that it will flood… or just pull out.’

These comments will undoubtedly upset many residents on the Moors and Levels but it is important that they are aware of the current thinking on flooding. The report considers such issues as run-off from areas surrounding the ‘basin’ that forms the Moors and Levels and even which crops should be planted.

At least, residents are fairly safe from flooding this winter because with the General Election next year government will not undo the work they have already done.


 

 
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