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To: Minister for the Environment
Save the Somerset Levels
Please authorise spending to dredge rivers on the Somerset Levels (especially the Parrett and the Tone). Heavy rainfall over the last year has caused these rivers to overflow, leaving homes, roads and fields flooded. Some of this flooding has been in place almost continuously since November 2012. The damage to the wildlife in the 9 SSSIs in the Levels has been immense.
Why is this important?
Because the rivers have not been dredged for many years, their capacity has been reduced. As a consequence and because of the very heavy rain over the last year, a number of main roads across the Levels have been flooded almost continuously since mid-November 2012.(The same number of roads were flooded in May 2012.) As a consequence, school buses, cars and lorries face long detours and delays, with increased fuel consumption and damage to minor roads. Journeys into hospital, which should take 20 minutes, last over an hour..A number of villages (such as Muchelney) were cut off completely for weeks. Vast areas of farmland have been submerged and numerous small farmers face ruin. Some 150 houses (involving up to 500 people) have been flooded out - some more than once over the last 3 months. In some cases, the houses were flooded 30 inches deep in brown filthy water. More than one famiy lost all their furniture. Householders had to abandon their homes for Christmas and the New Year.One elderly lady, who had lived in her house for more than 50 years, had to be rescued by the Fire Service and has now been living in a small holiday let for nearly 3 months.Small businesses, such as log suppliers, have seen their livelhoods destroyed.
The Somerset Levels are an important area for wildlife and consequently tourism (there are no fewer than 9 SSSIs in the area). In the May 2012 floods, nests were washed away and nestling birds drowned, The same will happen this spring.