Sunday, March 9, 2014

Farmers' fury after climate change expert claims Somerset Levels flooding 'should not be made a special case'

Jonathan Taylor in the Western Gazette (UK): Farmers have reacted angrily after the Government's climate change experts questioned whether it was fair to spend £100 million of taxpayers' money to save the Somerset Levels.

Climate expert Lord Krebs has sent a letter to Environment Minister Owen Paterson saying the Levels should not be made a special case and any plan should be good value for money. Earlier this week the Minister took receipt of an action plan outlining £100 million worth of measures that need to be taken to safeguard the area from future flooding. Read the summary of the plan.

The Government has pledged £20 million towards dredging and the clean-up operation, but it is still unclear where the money for major capital projects such as the £30 million barrage on the Parrett will come from.

The Committee on Climate Change warns Mr Paterson that defending the Levels will become "ever more difficult" as sea levels rise by 12cm by 2030 and intense rainfall events become even more common.

Lord Krebs, chairman of the adaptation sub-committee, tells the Minister that the Levels is "a largely engineered wetland landscape" and any public funding should face strict face tests to ensure "value for money is being achieved".

"Funding from central Government for flood risk management is limited, and as a result many worthwhile projects have to held back each year," he said. "Whilst the immediate needs of the affected communities will be a priority, it would be unfair in the long-term for the Levels to attract more taxpayer support than similar areas elsewhere....

February 2014 flooding in Burrowbridge, in Somerset, shot by Rodw, Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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