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No Flooding In Somerset Levels, Thanks To Owen Paterson

February 18, 2020

By Paul Homewood


We all remember the Somerset floods six years ago, and how they were exacerbated by the lack of proper dredging, poor pump maintenance, bank clearing etc:



Thanks to Owen Paterson, this was put right.

And the result?



Environment Agency Flood Warnings in force @18th Feb 2020


There is only one red flood warning on the Somerset levels, despite the pummelling Storm Dennis. That is at Curry Moor, where there could be some localised flooding.




In general terms however, the Somerset Levels are free of floods. A reminder that dredging and other maintenance work can be effective in preventing flooding, providing it is properly coordinated.

  1. deejaym permalink
    February 18, 2020 12:15 pm

    tbf, the recent rainfall on the Levels was way less than that experienced further North

  2. Bloke down the pub permalink
    February 18, 2020 12:15 pm

    Owen Paterson is one of the brighter characters in parliament. I wish he had his old job back.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      February 18, 2020 1:47 pm

      Was one of the very few who actually was capable but then his brain fried for some reason and he joined Jacob Rees-Moron’s Ultra Brexit idiots despite having worked closely with the late Christopher Booker and Dr Richard North. Dr North use to provide research for him.

  3. Pancho Plail permalink
    February 18, 2020 12:25 pm

    We have been inundated with flood warnings over the past few days, issued, I presume, on the precautionary principle. Has anyone any idea how many of the predictions actually came to anything.

  4. john in cheshire permalink
    February 18, 2020 12:26 pm

    That’s what happens when a sensible person is allowed to make sensible decisions to the benefit of normal people and not to appease the warped views of the gaia loving people haters.

  5. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    February 18, 2020 12:27 pm

    Now theres a thought look after the drainage system and it will reduce the occurrence of flooding events but spoil the opportunity of the media to latch onto it!

  6. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 18, 2020 12:33 pm

    Anybody dropping a letter to the Times, Guardian or DT to make this more public? I’m sick and tired of being told that dredging doesn’t work. (Happy to write in myself…)

    • February 18, 2020 12:42 pm

      I wrote an article in 2015 (reproduced here) about this.
      Nothing much has changed.
      The ideologues, greenies and ecology graduates at the EA and in the government don’t want to know.

  7. February 18, 2020 12:39 pm

    Owen Patterson was sacked for dredging, wasn’t he?

    I’m told by the Env Agency that dredging only makes flooding worse. How do they know when they haven’t tried it for twenty five years or more? And how does it make it worse?

    The boss of the negligent EA should be sacked. Better still, issued with a spade, shown which end to hold it and, along with most of the staff, told to get digging.

  8. Pancho Plail permalink
    February 18, 2020 12:44 pm

    I have just imported the picture into a graphics program, resized one bridge image to match the other and done a rough comparison of the river widths. In the modern picture I estimate that the width is about 60% of the older one, without any consideration of the different depths. This means a massive reduction in the capacity of the river to transfer water.

  9. Bill Berry permalink
    February 18, 2020 2:09 pm

    The Somerset Levels are flooded in a manageable way – in farm fields held as flood reserve. Afaik there is no habitation flooding – some roads are intermittently risky and some foolhardy drivers have ended up in ditches.

    It should have dawned by now that any catchment where there is any engineered channel will need appropriate dredging. Where there is none, leave alone. Basins where there are high level carriers need pumps, and they need to be turned on. Elsewhere, over-reliance on the installation of a few trees and beavers would be a mistake. Fixing the compaction of soils caused by years of impact by increasingly heavy farm machinery and pointy little hooves would pay handsomely in increasing soil waterholding capacity and attenuating surface-water flow in flashy catchments.

  10. StephenP permalink
    February 18, 2020 2:11 pm

    When the EA took over the river management they sold off the fleet of dredgers and followed the EU water framework directive that had the aim of re-wetting the Levels.
    When dredging was resumed following the disastrous floods the job was made much slower and vastly more expensive as the dredgings had to be taken to landfill,, since they were now classified as waste, instead of being used to reinforce the river banks.
    It is interesting to see the only serious flooding risk was on the river Tone. There has been an enormous amount of building at Taunton in recent years with the effect of much faster run-off from the hard surfaces.
    I like the photographs. A classic case of the three pictures being worth a thousand words.

  11. Thomas Carr permalink
    February 18, 2020 4:03 pm

    Bloke down the pub ( see above) is right . Owen P. has a better CV than many better known politicians according to his details in Wikipedia. You’d think that our PM would have found a senior job for that level of experience and public regard. May be he is thought of as being too good. I bear in mind some of the articles in The Times after the latest list of cabinet members was announced. For those who did not read the articles their gist was that the PM did not want too much competence around him as he is not a man of convictions ( apart from a motoring offence — as he is supposed to have admitted himself).

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      February 19, 2020 10:24 am

      Taking a leaf out of Farage’s book.

  12. Tonyb permalink
    February 18, 2020 6:29 pm

    The Chief Executive of the EA is usually a political appointee and generally knows nothing. The next layer of management are often deeply green. Once you get several layers down there are some very sensible people who know exactly what needs to be done, but are prevented from doing so by their bosses, the politicians, the Greens,the Kyoto agreement, The EU rules on habitats and our own gold plating.

    This makes it difficult to dredge, open up channels, clear ditches and generally remove debris especially trees, that impede water flow.

    It is true that the needs of small creatures such as water voles are put before the needs of humans but ironically the resultant floods often sweep away these small creatures.

    To be fair the EA continually advise against building on flood plains but the councils won’t listen to them. They also comment on famers plans who want to ensure their fields don’t get flooded or to drain land that previously held water.

    All in all we make flooding MUCH worse with the current arrangements. All this not helped by, despite the best places already having been built on, we insist on importing another 350000 people a year who will all require homes, many of which will be in unsuitable flood prone places

    • February 18, 2020 7:58 pm

      I’m a riparian owner (I own to the centre of the river on my boundary). As such there are a lot of rules and regulations, and I have rights and responsibilities such as :
      “You must let water flow naturally. You may have to remove blockages, fallen trees or overhanging branches from your watercourse, or cut back trees and shrubs on the bank”
      “You should: leave all other trees, branches and shrubs – they can help prevent flooding by varying the shape and flow of the channel, and reduce erosion”


      Needless to say, in the countryside a lot of landowners just get on and do what is sensible.

  13. February 18, 2020 8:57 pm

    Just becasause I said that the environ-mental agency has been taken over by eco-nutters who have stopped dredging that for hundreds of years had stopped places flooding.

    I’ve had some idiot trying to tell me all day “you’re not an expert, the experts all agree that dredging doesn’t work”.

    Dredging does work – and like the global warming rubbish, the eco-nutters will deny the science till their dying breath

    • Steve permalink
      February 19, 2020 9:53 am

      What happened to the mad old Dame who was put in charge and wanted to destroy the pumps and flood the fields for the water fowl to have somewhere to swim?

    • Duker permalink
      February 22, 2020 12:10 am

      Just point out to them the Los Angeles River which runs through the heart of LA , its wide and concrete lined for a reason.-to maintain the channel width and depth and allow a faster flow. Dredging is a poor mans option, but you have to dredge the whole channel to the sea.
      Dredging only will ‘not work’ if your prime assumption is rainfall will increase. But even that is dubious as dredged channels that are full 5x every 5 years rather than 4x as previously makes it more cost effective not less

  14. keith holland permalink
    February 19, 2020 2:48 pm

    And on the Jeremy Vine show today we still had idiots ringing in saying dredging is bad and shouldn’t be allowed.

  15. Adrian Phillips permalink
    February 24, 2020 6:58 pm

    It might just be that the rivers on Somerset have not flooded badly in February because the amount of rainfall in the catchment has not been so exceptional as in other parts of England. EA records clearly show this is the case. In relation to the long term average, the rainfall in the South West this February so far has been 128%, relatively speaking the driest region in England. Compare that to the North West at 199%.

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