Somerset levels - don't care what locals say?

Tony Gosling tony at
Fri Feb 7 12:44:18 GMT 2014

how very wrong Peter
Land tax just binds humanity further into the 
cult of money and the crooks now in charge of the tax spend
Read a bit of WInstanley and learn from him, not me.

At 14:08 05/02/2014, you wrote:
>A tax on all land values and then redistribute 
>to all is the most efficient way to make land a 
>common treasury for all and belong to us all. In 
>the true spirit of the diggers.
>Our earth is too precious not to tax its use
>I do not really care what a bunch of locals 
>would say in a public meeting, as its just a gut 
>reaction to their self-interest, most people 
>only ague from a point of self-interest and 
>frame the debate as such – it does not mean they 
>are correct. My views are to support mankind and 
>our future generation and have some places for wildlife.
>Nothing wrong with using logic and science to 
>understand and solve our problems. You need to 
>do a bit more ‘digging’ to understand economics, 
>fluvial geomorphology and the benefits of having 
>your belief systems challenged now and again.
>Peter Smith
>Chief Executive
>Wildwood Trust
>Description: cid:image002.jpg at 01CC58FA.00DD6780
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>Wildwood Trust's vision is to bring back our 
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>involves releasing large wild herbivores and 
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>restore natural ecological processes to help Britain team with wildlife again.
>The Wildwood 'Woodland Discovery Park' is an 
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>Wildwood offers its members and visitors a truly 
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>From: Tony Gosling [mailto:tony at]
>Sent: 05 February 2014 13:12
>To: Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust
>Subject: RE: [Diggers350] Somerset levels - monks that dug them
>Oh dear LVT too is hopeless Tax is for luxuries which land isn't.
>Flooding of levels even RSPB don't agree
>You, I repeat Peter, would not last five minutes 
>at a public meeting down there, all words.
>Good radio debate to be had though if you're up for it.
>Too much of the anti dredging brigade see 
>animals as just as important as humans - very 
>new age - probably just like wife murdering Prince Charles.
>At 12:37 05/02/2014, you wrote:
>Our Annual review attached and go the Charity 
>Commission website and type our name in to get 
>all the info you need 
>Our money comes mostly comes from individual 
>Membership subscription, entrance fees, training 
>courses and education fees, donations, 
>Ecological consultancy services, grant making 
>trusts, trading (shop & café) and the odd legacy.
>I do lectures on charitable funding to 
>postgraduate conservation students at a few 
>university departments – find  that presentation 
>attached. One of my areas of interest is 
>charitable funding (As well as my Ecological 
>qualifications I studied for an MA in Marketing 
>& and MBA with focus on charitable fundraising)
>I hope that answers your question. But as to 
>dredging – it is not the full solution - and the 
>levels needs (in some part) to be returned to 
>wetland and the upper catchment that drains into 
>the levels needs less (state sponsored) farming 
>and more wilderness and extensive farming to 
>slow down flows and retain water for longer periods.
>Land Value Tax is the perfect way to achieve the 
>‘diggers’ objectives as it allows for us to all 
>share in the common treasury of land and natural 
>resources and will promote the break-up of 
>uneconomic landed estates that will offer 
>opportunities to many for low impacts 
>smallholding and wildlife, while still allowing 
>for economic productivity, more jobs etc. It 
>will also promote the land’s ability to hold 
>water and get people off land that is prone to 
>flooding or is below the economic margin to be 
>farmed.  Land below the economic margin of 
>production needs to be ‘rewilded’ and this is 
>where keystone animals like beavers and wild 
>horse come in to help create diverse habitats, 
>structural diversity and maximise biodiversity.
>Any  gemophologist and/or hydrologist will tell 
>you that dredging is not the answer – or read 
>the EA presentation, attached, on dredging 
>attached with some nice graphs to help you understand the issues involved.
>All the best
>Peter Smith
>Chief Executive
>Wildwood Trust
>Description: cid:image002.jpg at 01CC58FA.00DD6780
>Follow us on 
>Find us on 
>See our latest pictures on <>Flickr
>e-mail:  <mailto:peter at>peter at
>Tel:  01227 712111
>  If you would like to receive our monthly 
> newsletter then sign up on 
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>Wildwood Trust
>Herne Common
>Herne Bay
>CT6 7LQ
>  Registered Charity No 1093702
>Somerset floods: this is a man-made disaster
>Somerset apple farmer Julian Temperley is one of 
>the thousands whose homes and livelihoods have been damaged by the deluge
>Somerset floods: this is a man-made disaster
>Submerged: Julian Temperley at his flooded family home Photo: Jay Williams
>By <>Anna Tyzack
>12:43PM GMT 30 Jan 2014
>Floods here on the Somerset Levels are normally 
>really good fun. The sun comes out and we go 
>sailing over our fields and my eldest daughter 
>Alice [Temperley, the designer] will take some 
>pictures of a girl in a canoe wearing one of her 
>dresses. We happen to run our business, 
><>The Somerset 
>Cider Brandy company, in a part of Somerset that 
>is low lying, so we’re prepared for flooding. 
>The water arrives, then quickly disappears and 
>no damage is done because we have systems in 
>place to control it. But there is nothing fun 
>about this current flood, which came on New 
>Year’s Day and has stuck around ever since.
>The Environment Agency has been widely reported 
>as saying it’s a freak occurrence. Not a chance. 
>This is a man-made ecological disaster. The 
>River Parrett, which runs through the Levels, is 
>blocked and badly needs dredging. I’m not sure 
>people realise that this is not just a theory 
>being discussed in the papers, it’s a fact. It’s 
>what is actually happening. The river at 
>Bridgwater is 10ft below its banks, while five 
>miles upstream it is overflowing.
>If I don’t dig out the ditches on my land all 
>hell breaks loose. I lose my single farm payment 
>and receive a fine. But the Environment Agency 
>won’t dig out its blasted river and so my 
>ditches have nowhere to drain. As a result we 
>have 50 acres of land under six feet of water – 
>it would take more than 30 years for it to 
>evaporate naturally. Thankfully I’ve managed to 
>salvage most of the cider and cider brandy in 
>our barns but I’ve lost some of my orchards and 
>in Thorney House, our family home where my 
>98-year-old father lives, the flood water comes 
>half way up my wellies. A few weeks ago it was 
>covering the furniture. My father, who is deeply 
>upset about the situation, is staying with my 
>aunt in Worcestershire while we rent him a 
>house. It’s a big upheaval for a man of his age.
>Of course it’s not just my family that has been 
>affected. About 20,000 acres of farmland in 
>Somerset have been underwater for a month now. 
>I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures. The ancient 
>village of Muchelney is totally cut off; you can 
>only get there by boat, and Thorney, where my 
>father lives, has been evacuated. The reality is 
>horrific: tractors and cars have been submerged; 
>animals drowned, and the locals are in despair.
>An oak furniture maker near Bridgwater has lost 
>more than £1million of furniture, while the 
>potter John Leach, 75, whose grandfather Bernard 
>Leach established Muchelney Pottery, a family 
>dynasty, has had to lay off his five employees; 
>unless they were prepared to swim, there was no 
>way they could get to their workshops. He’s in a 
>deep depression and I think we’d lose him from 
>the area altogether if he could sell his house. 
>But of course it’s filled with water, so that’s not going to happen.
>So why hasn’t the Environment Agency dredged the 
>river? It used to be done every five years; even 
>more than that in the areas where silt builds up 
>more quickly. But for the past 20 years the 
>Environment Agency has refused to dredge – a 
>process that would have cost them about 
>£4million – arguing that it is 
>anti-environmental and causes as many problems 
>as it solves (which defies common sense). 
>Instead, £31million has been spent on creating a 
>spurious wildlife reserve to protect the beetles 
>in the river banks which, by the way, are very 
>close relations of cockroaches. To think 
>national treasures such as Leach are considered 
>of less importance than some dubious beetles!
>This reluctance to dredge is about as ridiculous 
>as me telling MPs in London to take down the 
>Thames Barrier, pull down the Embankment, and 
>let the Thames flood Soho as it pleases. The 
>Somerset Levels, just like London, are a 
>man-made environment; the River Parrett was not 
>put where it is by God but by man. Taunton and 
>Yeovil are two of the fastest-growing towns in 
>England and they’re putting more pressure than 
>ever on the Parrett, a slow flowing, naturally 
>silty river. My great-great-great-grandfather 
>used to bring coal barges up it from Wales; you 
>couldn’t do that trip in a canoe, now – the 
>bottom of the river is so high with silt
>We need to dredge 15 miles from the mouth of the 
>river up to Thorney, as has been done in some 
>shape or form for the past 500 years to 
>safeguard communities from this kind of 
>flooding. Not even the Second World War got in 
>the way of it – we put Italian POWs on the job.
>When the Somerset Levels flooded last year – and 
>water poured in to my father’s house for the 
>first time since 1926 – the Government declared 
>it a once-in-a-lifetime event. Now it’s happened 
>again, they’ve conceded that “some dredging 
>might be done” but only after they’ve carried 
>out studies. This week the chair of the 
>Environment Agency Lord Smith told BBC Radio 4’s 
>programme: “Dredging would probably make a small 
>difference, but it’s not the comprehensive 
>answer that some people claim.” The fact they 
>think they need to research the situation shows 
>how stupid they are. River dredging happens all 
>over the world all the time. If they need 
>someone to tell them whether water flows up hill 
>or down hill, they should ask a local farmer or 
>call in the army to sort out the situation – 
>that’s what happened in the foot-and-mouth crisis of 2001.
>We’re going to be flooded here in Somerset for 
>at least another five weeks. The longer the 
>water lingers over the Levels, the greater the 
>ecological disaster. If the weather was 10 
>degrees colder, the flora and fauna beneath it 
>would be protected but as it is the grass and 
>trees are dying and everything is starting to smell.
>There’s also the economic damage to consider. In 
>both the villages of Thorney and Muchelney 
>there’s at least £1million damage, and about 
>£50million across the whole area. Once Thorney 
>House has dried – which will take weeks – it 
>will need to be cleaned, replastered, rewired 
>and replumbed, every appliance replaced and the 
>furniture repaired. Last year we also had to 
>replace all the old wooden floors with tiles; 
>the whole job cost £70,000. This year the damage 
>is three times as bad and the insurance 
>companies, most of which were so accommodating 
>last year, aren’t going to take kindly to renewing our policies now.
>Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started 
>receiving emails from my neighbours asking when 
>the church services take place in Muchelney. 
>They’re all going to church now; they think 
>God’s got something to do with all this water. 
>But this is quite clearly a man-made problem. 
>Yes, it’s been wet but we are, after all, in the 
>middle of winter. There has been no cloudburst 
>or crazy storm. The only thing God can be blamed 
>for is not giving the Environment Agency any brains.
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