Sedgemoor in the TOP TEN “Noah” list.
The new head of the Environment Agency (EA) gave a speech on the 7th June detailing the EA policy towards flooding under the headings Prevention, Resilience and Adaptation. Where they can economically prevent flooding they will, where they can’t prevent occasional flooding they will help with resilience and the recovery of properties and where unpreventable flooding will become frequent they will help with adaptation. Subsequently a list of the ten areas most at risk of long term frequent unpreventable flooding was published. The Sedgemoor area was on the list. This refers to the area of moorland, not the district council area and part of it is in Curry Rivel parish. The facts are that continued sea level rise is certain, and that between now and 2050 it may become difficult to prevent or be resilient against flooding in the ten areas. From 2050-2100 it will be necessary to adapt these areas to the new norm, permanent inundation, and communities in them will start to discuss how to adapt. What form that takes is still under discussion but clearly living with permanent standing water and limited access cuts down options. In the short term the work done by the Trust, as part of the wider Reimagining the Levels group, has contributed 1000 trees and shrubs to the total planting of over 60000 trees and shrubs in the area. Go to reimaginingthelevels.org.uk to see the location of many of the planting areas around the Parrett, Yeo and Isle catchment areas. This tremendous effort, made by all the volunteers of the RtL teams in conjunction with the Somerset Rivers Authority under the “Trees for Water” scheme will contribute to the Prevention phase of the Environment agency plan by reducing water run-off from the hills, thus reducing inflow into the catchment area that flows into the Sedgemoor complex of levels and moors. It will be a race between the plants growing and taking up more and more water and the rise in sea level leading to higher tides on the Parrett. Hopefully between now and 2050 the flooding will still be held in check enough to mean that the adaptation pathway does not come into play. However it is inevitable that, with global temperatures still rising and the melting of glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic icecaps accelerating, West Sedgemoor will be more and more under pressure from sea rise.A recent research project, that we contributed to, has charted how the adaptation pathway will work. Adapting the Levels was an EU funded project to chart how areas in both Somerset and in the Netherlands will put plans into place that will trigger various phases of adaptation as sea levels rise. It is too extensive to describe here but it is to be found on the website adaptingthelevels.com It is vital that more land on the hills above West Sedgemoor is forested quickly to push the inevitable back as far as possible. So if you have any influence on land use where water drains into Sedgemoor please think carefully about planting woodland. Help is available to meet all the costs; contact the Trust on for more information.We are proud that in Curry Rivel we have made a great effort to be part of this protection effort and hope we have contributed in no small measure to preserving the Somerset levels and moors for future generations as well as ameliorating flooding in Curry Rivel village. Finally please do keep updated on what the Trust is doing by going to our website: currywoodsconservationtrust.com.s