[Diggers350] Somerset Levels no dredge toad pontificates from afar - or trust local community?
seeds at snail.org.uk
Tue Feb 4 21:20:32 GMT 2014
what land rights activists need to pay attention to more is Hinkley
Point and land 'rights' activists who work for nuclear (and other dodgy)
On 2014-02-04 17:46, Tony Gosling wrote:
> Having spoken to locals I'm quite clear.
> Over decades silt builds up and up and up so trees start growing
> several yards out from the banks - locals have pix
> Volume of water escaping to the sea for the 12 hours every day around
> low tides is up between 3 and 4 times with dredging. much greater
> cross section = much greater water flowing out.
> Nobody seems to have picked up on the glaring fact that the
> Environmnet Agency sluice is CLOSED when it should be open - broken -
> stuck - nobody seems to know.
> Did anybody here have a look at the video I shot?
> Rather too easy to have a Chris Smith style view from afar.
> I do wonder what land rghts activists are up to saying anything other
> Let the people who live there, only a few of which are farmers of
> course, manage the levels flood budget however they want.
> At 00:13 02/02/2014, david bangs wrote:
>> I think George M, Simon F, and Rob's contributions have been good and
>> Just to say...a very large proportion of the Somerset Levels (the
>> southern moors like West Sedgemoor, Kings Sedgemoor, Wet Moor etc; the
>> middle moors, like Westhay and Tealham Moors etc) are SSSIs, and some
>> sites are National Nature Reserves.
>> I'm a long way away, but I don't hear enough defending this statutory
>> national interest compared to wot I hear from reactionary MPs, Owen
>> Paterson, and farmers.
>> There's a good article on the attempts to staunch the steep decline of
>> breeding waders on the Levels in the latest 'British Wildlife'
>> (ironically titled 'Farewell to the Silver Meadows ?' Vol 25, Dec
>> 2013, pages 77 - 84), in which it's made clear that much of the
>> critical wildlife interest has shrunk back to the conservation-owned
>> nature reserves, DESPITE the statutory protection of so much of the
>> wider Levels.
>> Many folk will remember the appalling farmer-conservationist clashes
>> of thirty plus years ago over drainage in the Levels, after which
>> which some amelioration of the worst farmer / drainage board practices
>> was made.
>> It's not just changes in upstream farming that need to take place (as
>> all three above have suggested).
>> I, for one, can't take the prescriptions of angry Levels farmers
>> seriously (dredge and dredge) when its impossible to separate their
>> contributions from the feeling that their own farming practices are
>> damaging and anti-social,
>> Dave Bangs
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: <mailto:chapter7 at tlio.org.uk>Simon Fairlie
>> To: <mailto:diggers350 at yahoogroups.com>diggers350 at yahoogroups.com
>> Sent: Saturday, February 01, 2014 5:32 PM
>> Subject: [Diggers350] Fwd: Somerset levels - monks that dug them knew
>> undredged rivers do not drain
>> Begin forwarded message:
>>> From: ReedMace <<mailto:reedmace at ymail.com>reedmace at ymail.com>
>>> Date: 1 February 2014 15:30:30 GMT
>>> To: Simon Fairlie <<mailto:chapter7 at tlio.org.uk>chapter7 at tlio.org.uk>
>>> Subject: Re: Somerset levels - monks that dug them knew undredged
>>> rivers do not drain
>>> Perhaps you can post it on my behalf.
>>> Speaking as a professional hydrologist there are merits on all sides
>>> of the argument. Clearly it is an emotive subject, particularly for
>>> those experiencing the flooding at the moment. However, I'm not sure
>>> emotive language and insults help anyone.
>>> The main issues are of scale and importance. Although I don't know
>>> the Somerset Levels well, I do know the Fens - a similarly engineered
>>> expanse of very flat drains.
>>> The Levels are man-made and therefore cannot be directly compared to
>>> natural catchments whereby water flows through the soil structure
>>> towards the lowest point, as they do in the upper catchments.
>>> Likewise the channels have been artificially created/widened. But
>>> because the area is flat, flow occurs, not due to the gradient in the
>>> river bed, but the gradient in the water level. This is how pumping
>>> works - it artificially lowers the water level at one location
>>> creating a surface (or energy) gradient that allows water to move
>>> towards it. A head (difference in water levels) is therefore required
>>> in order for flow to take place between two points.
>>> In this type of situation, dredging will help a little, but only by
>>> increasing storage - it does not increase the energy gradient. This
>>> is George Monbiot's point. The better solutions by far are to do with
>>> changes in upstream land use, retaining soil on the land and
>>> improving soil structure, as both George and Simon say. Undertaken
>>> over reasonably large areas these activities will retain water longer
>>> in the upper catchment, while it is still widely distributed, rather
>>> than trying to deal with it once it is all concentrated in the water
>>> course. Note that any tree planting undertaken in this regard must
>>> not be done by ploughing perpendicular to the contours (as is
>>> Forestry Commision practice). This will result in the opposite
>>> effect, creating hundreds of additional drainage conduits straight
>>> downhill in the upper catchment that wil significantly increase the
>>> rate of catchment response to rainfall, exacerbating the situation
>>> More drains won't help either because they won't increase the
>>> discharge capacity of the system - only the available storage -
>>> which, as George points out, is minuscule compared to the volume of
>>> flood water. The monks built the drains, not to cope with flooding
>>> from the upper catchment, but to drain the local soils so they could
>>> grow wool and food. It's a bit like saying we need a few extra minis
>>> to evacuate a city. Of course there is always the option of building
>>> vast concrete trapezoidal channels for the water, which is what has
>>> been done in the Fens (and in places like Jeddah and Kuwait City to
>>> cope with the sudden and enormous volumes of desert floods).
>>> However, the fact that twice the average monthly rainfall has fallen
>>> in the wettest January on record actually also plays a small part in
>>> this. That is a LOT of water. To say the flooding is entirely a
>>> man-made disaster is, I hope, hyperbole (notwithstanding the rather
>>> banal comment that there's been 'no cloudburst or crazy storm'). But
>>> the solutions advocated in the farmer's article, I suggest, really
>>> wouldn't make much difference to the situation at all - the land is
>>> flat (that is, neither uphill nor downhill - no disrespect to Mr
>>> Temperley) and dredging 15 miles won't change that.
>>> As for the claim that last year saw a once-in-a-lifetime flood, so we
>>> shouldn't have another one the next year, well that's often the way
>>> climate works and statistics don't. And it's no secret that climate
>>> statistics have been being broken on a fairly regular basis over the
>>> last 20 years. Are we experiencing a shift in the climate's
>>> underlying statistical distribution? I am just slightly surprised
>>> no-one has mentioned climate change - warmer, wetter winters are
>>> exactly what have been predicted since I first started working on
>>> climate-change impacts over 25 years ago.
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