Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Somerset conservationists and farmers vent anger over UK flood recovery

Steven Morris in the Guardian (UK): One of the UK's most distinctive landscapes has been left devastated after it was engulfed by floodwater which was then left to stagnate for weeks. Environmentalists fear that flora and fauna on Curry Moor and Hay Moor on the Somerset Levels may take years to recover while farmers have suffered losses running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Many residents say the Environment Agency should have pumped water away from the moors sooner following the spring downpours and claim it is not doing enough to keep rivers and streams dredged or to find alternative ways to store floodwater.

Natural England is sending teams to the levels to try to help farmers cope with the aftermath of the flooding and to assess what damage has been done. A spokesman said the waters had left behind a "muddy, lifeless soil'' and described the flooding as "devastating for the farm businesses and systems on which so much of the special nature of the Somerset Levels relies''....

Farmer Tony Jeanes, from North Curry, said he had to sell almost half of his 80-strong beef cattle herd because he had to keep them inside off the flooded pastures and could not afford to feed all his animals. ''The pastures are ruined but it is not just the farmers that are suffering. It is the birds, animals and plants,'' he said. "This is an important area for all kinds of creatures – reed warblers, ducks, newts, frogs and beetles.''...

2009 flooding on the Somerset Levels at Hay Moor, shot by Nigel Mykura, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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