13 July 2012
The continued exceptionally heavy rainfall in the South West of England has resulted in further flooding in the region, which is causing serious problems for the farmers and special wildlife of the Somerset Levels & Moors.
Natural England and the Environment Agency are continuing to work together with the farming community and the Internal Drainage Board to help manage the situation during this very difficult time for the area’s farmers and other land managers.
On Thursday 12th July, the Environment Agency issued the following situation update:
Pumping started at Currymoor at 2.00pm on the 10 July. We plan to continue this pumping regime on a 24 hour basis, using all available pumps while the weather conditions and other environmental factors allow.
We are currently using all the permanent pumps plus three 24" Dutch Pumps, one more than previously. As of yesterday afternoon just over 1 Million cubic metres went in, compared to 11 Million during the last incident. On this basis and with a large proportion of the pumps remaining operational, including stations upstream of Langport, we estimate that it will take between six and eight days to pump it out.
With the very local and heavy rain we have had in the upper Parrett catchment there is a possibility that levels may rise that could stop us pumping but at this stage we do not know what the response in levels will be like.
There is a risk that when we get to smaller volumes in the moor we will get low dissolved oxygen (DO) levels which would slow down our pumping rate. We have put in place plans and resources to ensure we can manage low DO levels and have imbedded the learning from the last incident. We are not experiencing the same temperatures as last time which is in our favour.
Our field delivery teams are on site, monitoring the situation and carrying out regular checks.
Update on flood damage recovery at Currymoor and Hay Moor, Somerset
Over the last two weeks Phil Shere of the Environment Agency and Claire Stride of Natural England have met with almost all of the farmers and landowners, whose land has been flooded on Curry and Hay Moors. Natural England Executive Director for Land Management, Guy Thompson, visited Curry Moor on 21 June and Natural England’s Chair, Poul Christensen, is due to visit the area next week.
Natural England teams have attended Stoke St Gregory and North Curry Parish Councils and met National Farmers Union, Country Landowners and Business Association and Internal Drainage Boards to discuss the situation and we are in close contact with the Somerset Farm Crisis Network about what immediate support they might be able to offer affected famers.
As a result of the discussions we have had to date:
Natural England is working on derogations that will permit a wider variety of field operations and allow agri-environment payments to be unaffected by the flooding and disruption.
We plan to hold a machinery demonstration once the land has dried up, in conjunction with Keith Bigwood the local farm machinery supplier, to see which equipment would be best suited to remove the thatch left behind after the flooding.
Talks are underway with seed suppliers on the availability and suitability of a flood tolerant grass seed mixture.
There have been several offers of fodder from farmers nationally to assist those affected by the flooding. We are working out how distribution of this can be made and will let farmers and landowners have details as soon as we can.
Any affected farmer who would like to arrange to see Phil or Claire can contact Phil Shere (Environment Agency’s Lead Agricultural Advisor for the South West region) on 07792878577 or email email@example.com or Claire Stride (Natural England’s Lead Adviser for Curry Moor), on 07831617656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Environment Agency has set up a technical/engineering working group, which includes Natural England, the Internal Drainage Board Consortium and Somerset County Council, to look at what happened when the flooding occurred and to review possible options to mitigate future flooding. Phil and Claire will put forward the ideas and suggested solutions raised by farmers during their on site meetings, but if any other land manager has comments or suggestions that they would like to have represented to the group then please contact Phil Shere at the Environment Agency.
A feasibility report on the various options will be published in September 2012.