The real reason for flooding in Somerset Levels? Not global warming – river management


A sign on a bridge over the River Parrett at Burrowbridge, Somerset. Martin Hesp says it is vital that rivers in the area are dredged after years of neglect that has seen capacity tumble Picture: SWNS

UPDATE: Satellite images added.

UPDATE2: Upon further inspection of satellite images and flood maps I’ve concluded that while what this commenter had to say about the history is indeed true, the impact in this situation is not particularly relevant. I was going on the idea that all of the flood control channels in Somerset levels were interconnected, so that there would be multiple paths of egress (directable by small dams). It turns out they are not, and the Huntspill sluice, even if full open, wouldn’t have drained any water where it was most needed. The real issue has to do with the lack of flow capacity in the Kings Sedgemoor Drain, (gravity drain, not pumped) due to silting and vegetation encroachment, as well as similar issues in the River Parrett where a campaign was launched in 2013 to get it dredged, to no avail. Thus I’ve changed the top photo and the title to reflect this new information about lack of management, putting wildlife over people.  – Anthony

UPDATE3/4: This before and after photo shows the problem of silting restricting the flow on the River Parrett (originally only two photos, now 3 together which tells the story better.


Composite image of the River Parrett in Burrowbridge in the early 1960’s (top left) when dredging was carried out on a regular basis, a recent picture before the current flooding event showing the encroaching river banks (bottom left) and during the recent flooding Photo: SWNS

h/t to Richard North at EU Referendum for the original two on the left, with thanks to WUWT commenters ‘Peter’ and ‘Jones’ and ‘Jabba the Cat’

This article at The Telegraph is the source: How Somerset Levels river flooded after it was not dredged for decades


We’ve previously covered the absurd claims that “global warming” was the cause of flooding in Somerset, UK here and here, with yesterday, even a senior scientist at the Met Office disagreeing with the spinmistress in charge, Julio Slingo’s claim about an AGW connection. Now we learn the real reason. Lack of management.  The ROF pumping station was turned off in 2008 and nothing was done to replace it, while at the same time the Huntspill sluice gates to drain water to the sea seemed to be improperly managed by the EA.

I’m repeating the comment here to give wide distribution.

Bishop Hill writes: Commenter “Corporal Jones’ Ghost’ left this comment on one of the flooding threads. It looks to be quite important. (see my notes above in update 2, this claim while historically true, is no longer credible as a reason for flooding – Anthony)


I want to tell you what really has happened on the Somerset Levels.

I am remaining anonymous for good reason, I think you’ll understand why.

You have to go back to 1939, when the MOD decided that they needed a new Munitions factory for HDX explosives, HDX uses a lot of water, all munitions manufacture does, but HDX is greedy. 

The levels had too much water and so we built one on the Levels, ROF37 or ROF Bridgewater or ROF Woolavington, it’s all the same place.

To ensure that there was enough water even on the waterlogged Levels, we built the Huntspill River, we then connected it to the River Brue to the North and the Kings Sedgemoor Drain via a pipe to the South, we also widened the River Sowy to get water to our factory.

We would use >5 thousand million litres every year, rain or shine.

We then disposed of it into the sea, we had to do this regardless of the tidal conditions and we had steam pumps that did this remarkable task, they pumped out at the Huntspill sluice 3 thousand million ltrs a year, the rest was either evaporated, too contaminated and shipped off-site or left the factory in the product!

Part of the legacy f the fall of Communism was that we didn’t need quite so much ordnance to practice killing the deadly foe.

In the mid 1990s the decision was made and we ran down the ROFs.

By 2000 ROF37 was given an execution date of 2008 and like all state executions, it was carried out on time.

We all knew that the ‘run-on’ from our departure would be that the EA/Levels Boards needed to take over pumping, they couldn’t afford our old system as it was very old and on restricted land.

I should explain at this point that the ONLY pumping done was ours, we could and did pump no matter the tides, we’d taken over the responsibility/control in 1940 for all high volume pumping on the Levels.

We advised that the Huntspill be automated and the Kings Sedgemoor Drain be pumped and made strong representation to that effect.

But every meeting with the EA ended in frustration as they never sent a single seriously knowledgeable Drainage Engineer to any meeting. The Levels Boards understood the issues and tried to get the pumps installed.

It didn’t happen.

One of the problems with draining the Levels is silting, we used to pump in such a way as to utilise ‘scour’ of all the rhynes and ditches and pipelines to keep them clear, when we shut down in the 50s due to a slight mishap and explosion on site in just 15 days of reduced use we found the lines lost about 1% of their ‘flow sympathy’ meaning we had to suck about 1% harder to get the same amount of water through the top metering point.

We all hoped that the 2007 flood would wake the EA up and get them to re-think their stance on the KSD pumps, they would not even agree to a meeting! We were pumping furiously on a limited facility in that year or that flood would have been horrific.

Today, looking at the flood charts and pictures it is obvious that the connection to the Huntspill is blocked, silted up.

So the water can’t be ‘smeared’ over all the levels as in the past, that is why ‘record’ levels are being recorded in certain areas whilst others are barely affected.

The poor chap who has built an Island out of his home has my sympathies, he the KSD pumps been in place for the last 6 years he’d not be in the predicament he is in, nor for that matter would most of the others on the levels, the water won’t be going anywhere soon.

This is the reality of the situation, if you wish to check for yourself, you can go to even the Wiki pages and read about it (until they get edited no doubt!) but all that I’ve written is a matter of public record and can be verified elsewhere.

I enclose a single link to the fact that we did our best to convince the EA that the matter was serious.

Quote from above…

Floodwater is removed from many of the moors of the Somerset Levels by pumping stations, which were originally steam-powered. These were superseded by diesel engines, and more recently by electric pumps. The King’s Sedgemoor Drain is unusual in that it operates entirely by gravity. Consideration was given to replacing Dunball clyse with a pumping station in 2002, which would have allowed water to be discharged into the estuary at all states of the tide, but this course of action was not followed. Management of the Drain is the responsibility of the Environment Agency, whereas the numerous rhynes or drainage ditches which feed into the Drain are the responsibility of several Internal Drainage Boards, who work together as the Parrett Consortium of Drainage Boards.[19]

The reference point… ^ The Parrett Catchment Water Management Strategy Action Plan. Environment Agency. 2002. ISBN 1-85705-788-0. Retrieved 16 November 2010.

I thought someone ought to know the real truth behind this fiasco.


Also in the reference in Wikipedia is this story which backs up the commenter’s claim:

As part of the war effort, an explosives factory, ROF Bridgwater, was built at Puriton. The Catchment Board needed to be able to guarantee that 4.5 million gallons (20.5 Megalitres) of process water would be available to the factory every day. To this end, the Huntspill River was constructed, a little further to the north, which was essentially a revival of a plan by J. Aubrey Clark in 1853, to provide better drainage for the Brue valley. King’s Sedgemoor drain was deemed to be a backup source for water, should the Huntspill scheme fail, and so all of the work which had been planned before the war started was completed, to ensure that the volume of water needed was always available.[14] Greylake sluice was built by the Somerset Rivers Catchment Board in 1942, and used guillotine gates to control water levels. The original plaque commemorating its completion was incorporated into the new structure when the sluice was rebuilt in 2006.[15]

To help readers visualize, here is a couple of map items from Google Earth that I annotated. First, the ROF37 munitions factory, Huntspill River, the Huntspill Sluice (gates) and their proximity to the town of Bridgwater:


It looks like they keep the Huntspill River artificially high, even in good weather. The voles must be happy:


It seems the writing was on the wall in January 2014, as shown in this video:

Here are some photos from that same day:


But no, it MUST be AGW because water mismanagement by the Environmental Authority is out of the question.

Of course, this EA map says otherwise, click to enlarge:


This is from a policy document from 2008 which referred to the possibility – so-called option 6 – of allowing parts of the Levels to flood:

Policy Unit 8- Somerset Levels and Moors

Policy option 6 – Take action to increase the frequency of flooding to deliver benefits locally or elsewhere, which may constitute an overall flood risk reduction.

Note: This policy option involves a strategic increase in flooding in allocated areas, but is not intended to affect the risk to individual properties.


Satellite image from Feb 8th, click to enlarge:


Same area seen today from MODIS, the brown floodwaters are obvious, though reduced:



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We need pictures of the Kings Sedgemoor Drain, as this is the one the EA failed to maintain and which drains the areas affected by flooding. The Huntspill Drain has protected the nirthern moors south of Glastonbury from the floods experienced further south.


Someone in local-central government must have had the foresight to see the benefit of flooding to the global warming war effort, thus obstructed every effort to maintain the flood pumps. Somewhere in Whitehall are some wide smiles.

Philip Mulholland

What follows is a long interview with Richard North on how EU directives since 2000 have dictated the current Environment Agency (EA) policy of allowing the Somerset Levels to flood.
The contention is that the EA have treated the Levels as if it is a flood plain, when in fact it is a managed region that does not drain naturally and so requires regular pumping, particularly in winter.

Nick de Cusa

I was gonna mention Dr North, glad someone was faster than me.


Well, this is proof, if proof were needed, that the EA is run by a bunch of incompetents. No amount of dredging would be of any use with that sluice in that position. Opened wide it might clear the flood water in a week or so not the months mentioned.
The Levels need a LOCAL flood board not a bunch of poets running things.

The lunatics have taken of the Asylum.

I mean the lunatics have taken over the Asylum … but taking off from the asylum is just as good metaphor.

This is yet another in a long, long line of examples of governments that screw things up on purpose or through ignorance and then blame it on someone or something else. But to beat all, the government will then tell you that you need to cede even more money and freedom to them to “fix” the problem they created.
Did CO2 do this? Well consider: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” ~ H. L. Mencken


Then of course, there’s the good ol’ EU putting the boot in:

Keith Willshaw

The key to the malaise at the heart if the EA can be found in this plan. The principles they expound are detailed in Table on Page 113
1) Improve physical and mental well being
2) Be resource wise We need to challenge policies and activities that
use resources inefficiently or unnecessarily
3) Support thriving low carbon economies
4) Enhance local distinctiveness & diversity including
5) Take a long term approach
6) Help everybody to join in public decision making
7) Improve equality in meeting basic needs
8) Use local and ethical goods and services
9) Develop sustainability learning and skills
10) Reduce high carbon travel
Nowhere does protect people, their property and the economy get a look in.

Dr T G Watkins

Tallbloke’s Talkshop should be credited for first posting this essay.
Nothing is ever so bad that the intervention of government cannot make worse.
REPLY: Didn’t know he had it. Ever since he started madly and irrationally dissing WUWT and me for taking a stance on the integrity issues around the pal review journal of his, I’ve stopped reading his blog. Willis once predicted he’d be all alone talking to himself; it seems to have started. – Anthony

richard verney

I would not be surprised if this story were true.
Someone needs to send some FOIs to the EA about the meetings that took place in the run up to the closure and beypnd (say 2003 to 2010), to see to what extent the EA were forewarned and to what extent they failed to do anything about alieviating fioreseeable future flooding problems.


If this was done out of neglect or even on purpose, someone must be personally responsible for the floodings and may be liable to legal claims for the resulting damage.
I see a MASSIVE class-action lawsuit in the making here. Pro-bono lawyers galore!

Class action is the only way. £100.00 from every FLAG member will give a £1,000,000.00 (Million pounds) fighting fund. All that is then needed is a law firm brave enought to take the government on.

Berényi Péter

I am sure if the Huntspill sluice were opened wide, some rare kind of fresh water sponges or something would have suffered. Therefore it is completely justified to keep it closed in torrential rains. Water is a precious resource, after all.

“The effects of climate change are likely to make it become more precious in future. It is important that we use as little water as possible in performing our role in order to conserve this precious resource.”

And conserve they did it in performing their role, wisely, right on the Levels. What’s not to like?
It must be a warm, reassuring feeling to have your living room full of a precious resource instead of turbid floodwater, while generously expanding the habitat of endangered sponges to the inside of your TV set.

John Prendergast

I would confirm that ROF Bridgewater used to control the levels as a part of self interfestred service to the communbity. I would also confirm that EA is as bad as one’s worst nightmare.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

mogamboguru says:
February 16, 2014 at 4:07 am

I see a MASSIVE class-action lawsuit in the making here. Pro-bono lawyers galore!

I rather doubt it. Would someone conversant in British law please comment? I assume that as in the US the government is soverign (cannot be sued), and that umbrella of soverignty covers ministries, boards, etc., ? In other words, the EA is forgiven in advance for all their sins — for what they have done and for what they have failed to do (at least with respect to the civil courts to which ordinary citizens have access).
This sounds like a battle Lord Monckton would love to join.


On 29 August 2005 there were over 50 failures of the levees and flood walls protecting New Orleans, Louisiana, and its suburbs following passage of Hurricane Katrina and landfall in Mississippi [ … ] Five investigations (three major and two minor) were conducted by civil engineers and other experts, in an attempt to identify the underlying reasons for the failure of the federal flood protection system. All concur that the primary cause of the flooding was inadequate design and construction by the Corps of Engineers.
We’re from the government and we’re here to help.


Governments make political decisions. The interests of the people they allegedly serve come second.

“The key to the malaise at the heart if the EA can be found in this plan. The principles they expound are detailed in Table on Page 113”
Ie. Agenda 21

John Archer

Those sluice gates, or whatever their called, don’t look inundated to me and lifting them higher wouldn’t make any difference at the rate of flow shown, so what does this video prove?
Before anyone jumps to conclusions about my motivation for asking please bear in mind that I wouldn’t lift a finger to stop a mob lynching almost all of our political class and all those involved in the Environment Agency along with all the klimate-change activists infesting the body politic. If they decided to torture them first it would not upset me. OK?
So here’s my point: are we ‘denialists’ (rabid, in my case) shooting ourselves in the foot here?
I ask because on the face of it this seems as dumbarse to me as the shit one gets from the ecotards and almost as bad as UKIP for missing open goals and scoring glorious own goals instead (see wossername on Question Time supporting that alien slug, keith vaz). Doh!

John Archer wrote:

Those sluice gates, or whatever their called, don’t look inundated to me and lifting them higher wouldn’t make any difference at the rate of flow shown, so what does this video prove?

The sluice is the bit on the near side that should be lowered to let more water out. Only ONE side of the sluice has been lowered to allow water to flow OVER it. The one on the left hand side as we view it, by the look of it, may not even be functional now.

My mistake – these sluice gates look like they can be raised or lowered. Looking at the video again it is not clear if the position of the left hand gate allows a lot of water UNDER it – the water flow is difficult to see. Either way the position of the gates, with water backed up behind, is not right when there is impending flooding upstream.

Actually, it is clear from the photos linked to from below the video, that there is water flowing though both the L and R gates.
John Archer – Raising and lowering could be done by a ratchet mechanism on the side walls beside each sluice gate, although that’s not obvious in the photos. The cable apparently spending the right hand gate might be part of a windup/down mechanism on that side. Is that new? Does that mean that side has been repaired/upgraded but the left hand side not? is the Left hand side working?

J. Swift

This would seem to warrant a public inquiry.

Dodgy Geezer

Our American cousins will need a little elucidation.
The commentator’s handle ‘Corporal Jones’ Ghost’ refers to a well-known British TV series. Called ‘Dad’s Army’, it was a sit-com based around the British ‘Home Guard’ militia (initially ‘Local Defence Volunteers’), set up to resist a possible German invasion in 1940. Staffed with elderly and other ‘ineligible for military service’ volunteers, it was a bit of a joke at the best of times, but the series exaggerates their ineptitude to the point where it becomes difficult to sit on a sofa for laughing…
The Corporal Jones character was an elderly shopkeeper who had fought with Kitchener at Khartoum, and who, when faced with any emergency, would run around in small circles shouting ‘Don’t Panic!’. Which accurately mirrors the current response of the UK authorities…

“So here’s my point: are we ‘denialists’ (rabid, in my case) shooting ourselves in the foot here?”
No. It is obvious on its face that the drainage system of the area is poorly maintained and inadequate for predictable situations. It is the same thing as we saw with the criminal neglect of the levy system in New Orleans in the U.S. except that the New Orleans situation was much worse for the residents. But the reasons are the same — criminal neglect by the government agencies responsible for maintaining the system.

John Archer

Thanks. “It is obvious on its face that….”
Fine. But what does the video prove. On its face, nothing as far as I can tell. My question stands.

Dodgy Geezer

There was a long traffic jam on the M4, and a driver called out to a policeman who was walking from car to car: “What’s happening?”
“Well,sir, there’s a group of farmers further up the road who’ve taken Lord Smith (Head of the EA) hostage. They say that they’ll set fire to him and his entourage unless they get immediate cash compensation now. So we’re going from car to car asking for contributions…”
“Good Lord! How much do you want?”
“That’s very kind, sir. A couple of pints of petrol will be fine…”

John Archer

Dodgy Geezer, 🙂
I hope such things come to pass. I have my fingers crossed. We’ll need petrol by the tanker load then.

John Archer

Thanks. Do you know by how much they can be lowered?

The Engineer

@ John Archer
I think you misunderstood the situation. The sluices are closed. The water is running over the top of the closed gates – on the land side. Thats why he keeps talking about the ray of light one can see below the water level (on the sea side). His estimate was 2 – 3 meters.


John Archer says:
February 16, 2014 at 5:05 am
You make a good point with regards to the sluice gate opening at the flow shown. That opening would simply allow for metering the flow, not restricting it.


No. It is obvious on its face that the drainage system of the area is poorly maintained and inadequate for predictable situations. It is the same thing as we saw with the criminal neglect of the levy system in New Orleans in the U.S. except that the New Orleans situation was much worse for the residents. But the reasons are the same — criminal neglect by the government agencies responsible for maintaining the system.
One should realize why that disastrous flood engulfed New Orleans. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted to raise the levies etc for a long time, said so, warned what might happen if they did not, tried to start work, and were sued by environmental agencies (one of which was The Sierra Club) each and every time, and then stopped by a judge. This happened so many times that eventually they just gave up trying. The result, massive flooding, huge damages, hundreds dead.
The environmentalists who did this should not only have to pay the entire cost of the repairs (billions, I believe), but many of them should be brought up on charges of murder and terrorism and then executed. If I were in a position to do so, I would announce this while behind me scrolled the list of the many many court cases that stopped the engineers, with the name of the environmental agencies(s) that brought it highlighted.
While we are at it, the environmentalists have also rammed through a new policy for rivers and dams everywhere (those they have not entirely destroyed, as they destroyed about 925 significant dams in the western U.S. states prior to the current drought), which is to save extra water behind dams and then release it in a “spring pulse” to mimic the natural flow of the river, exactly what the dam was built to stop. Result, any winter or spring that has extra rainfall results in a great danger of flooding since the water behind the dam is already so much that it cannot hold more and must be released. How much damage has already been done, and how many have died? And why has this been completely concealed from the people by a complicit press? And why have those guilty of this, and those who aided and abetted them, not been executed?
This is no longer a minor policy disagreement between environmentalists and everyone else, the environmentalists have repeated exclaimed their motives, that people are the enemy and they are the cure (thus establishing motive, malice, for legal purposes). This is war. What you need to understand about war, “war does not determine who is right, war determines who is left”.

I live on the Somerset Levels – though often away, as now, on ecological research projects. As many of you know, I am a climate skeptic – though not a denialist, reckoning, after three years intensive research and publication of a book, that current warming/hiatus/future possible cooling, is 75-80% natural, the rest due to GHGs, most likely. I am also a conservationist, also with publications and a long history of environmentalist activism – all the way up to UN level, mostly on ocean and atmospheric pollution issues. I am also a ‘green’, leftish, liberal, loving kind-of-guy, though I find it hard to recognise the current ‘greens’ as remotely like the people and the philosophies that birthed the movement. I also have some experience as an advisor and consultant to UK government agencies, including the EA/Countryside Agency and specifically on water issues, landscape, biodiversity, human settlements and energy strategies.
That said, here is my viewpoint and some of the advice I have given directly to the agencies:
* first and foremost, there is a big debate in the UK about the decline in wildlife – at the most basic level of common birds, flower meadows, hedgerows, ancient woodland, fens, heaths and old pasture – we are a small country, intensively farmed, with much farming now a long way from the traditional small family farm – indeed, it is industrial/business/intensive farming that has denuded the countryside, not just of wildlife, but also people and community;
* the Somerset Levels were once famous for their wetland wildlife and quiet rural communities- but the pressures have been growing. The last 60 years has seen all of that ruined by intensive drainage for poor agricultural returns. Good funding exists to balance the water levels and the wildlife interest with farming – but the farmer’s union is antipathetic to anything that is not business – it displays a disregard for the public interest, and aversion to regulation, and has a very poor take up of the public funds available to make farming more environmentally friendly (water levels, pollution control, organic production with higher labour inputs and more people on the land, and greater diversity of widllife); the levels have lost many of their iconic species, but the conservation organisations have been purchasing remaining habitat, old peat working, restoring reed-beds, and cooperating on landscape-scale management – recently, the crane has been re-introduced, the otter has returned, and new species have nested (great white egret, little bittern).
* Much of the levels is below sea-level and hence has required pumping for a long time – and many drainage channels have their beds as much as a metre, sometimes two, above the surrounding agricultural land, as well as the wildlife habitat…..BOTH of these land uses now rely on pumping systems to maintain them – virtually all the northern levels area wildlife interest (reedbeds and alder carr) would be lost to a large lake if the pumping ceased entirely; in Medieval times, the area was lake and swamp, with Glastonbury a virtual island in winter (the fabled Avalon!) – it was drained by walling off at the estuary, digging ditches and pumping (by Dutch engineers);
* The EA is responding thus to several public interests – farming is just one, and most conservationists would say they lean more to the farmers though they try hard to balance the interests. Dredging is a red-herring, because a) it does not work when flood levels are extreme, and is damaging to wildlife; b) flooding large areas of farmland is a management option to protect settlements nearer the coast, and is also beneficial to wildlife; c) there are high cost implications for the protection of settlements – and the EA has spent a great deal of money on protection in the recent past- near Boroughbridge for example; but now all agencies have had 30% cuts in both funding and staffing levels – Britain is now a ‘poor’ country, virtually bankrupt as far as government funding is concerned!
* So – you get conflicting views – the farmers want compensation and cry foul (over dredging, which is irrelevant) and government ministers promise to dredge (sending scarce public funds into the hands of local contractors – guess who?). Richard North favours the farming community (he was once an environmentalist, but turned many years ago); George Monbiot favours better management of the floodplain regime – letting it flood more and adapting to that, and also planting forests upstream (not very practical as the rivers drain high-quality grain growing regions) but of course, is very ignorant on the causes of climate change.
* And on top of this, the weather/climate change is significant….I know because I have helped organise festivals on the levels for over fifteen years…and we had to move to higher ground in 2009, having had one festival flooded out by torrential rain – the site two feet deep in water, with two thousand campers flooded, and three thousand waiting in the night-rain to get on site (they all had to go home and the organisation was bankrupted….though resurrected, you will all be appalled to hear, by the Daily Mail’s extremely successful online astrologer); the shift is caused as many of you know, by the southward kinky jetstream, mostly likely driven off its ‘normal’ course by the low UV status of the Sun (read Drew Shindell, before J Hansen moved him off the Maunder Minimum and jetstream tracking to shoring up Standard Theory); thus the ‘atmospheric rivers’ come right in on a loopy track from the south-west and dump their load – that loop has been stuck now (like its equivalent ‘polar vortex’ in the USA) for about six weeks;
* my advice in 2003 to the EA and other agencies was….climate change can go up or down in temperature of rainfall in the UK, whatever the driver; so we need to adapt and take no-regrets strategies that also integrate with other sustainability objectives – like wildlife, landscape protection and vibrant rural communities – so: turbines are a complete waste of money and very damaging; as is biofuel; better to go for managed coastal retreat rather than trying to protect every last bit of farmland, stop building on floodplains, allow rivers to meander, support organic farming standards and extensive production, not intensive, in wildlife sensitive areas; in 2008 I told the MetOffice to expect a return of cold winters and wetter not drier summers – they didn’t listen, but they did set up a study team on the jetstream (they had no one working on it in 2008!) – and they actually do now know what is going on, but as we know, they can’t say it aloud! They have secret papers modelling the coming solar sulk and guess what? They show no warming for the next two decades! But of course, once old Sol shrugs off the depression, AGW will fry the UK – and dry out the sodden turf once more!

Alan Robertson

Dodgy Geezer says:
February 16, 2014 at 5:35 am
You get the thread Gold Star next to your name, and such a young thread, too.

Robert of Ottawa

A government success!


I stand to be wrong in my comment above @ February 16, 2014 at 5:54 am
After reviewing the video again and a little more closely it appears that the gate actually restricting the flow through the structure does in fact seem to rise from below the surface of the water. The second gate in series to the direction of flow that could be raised upward is not restricting the flow at the time the video was made.


How far was the sluice outlet away from the incoming tides which were high. Could it be possibly the gates were protecting from the sea ?

Alex Payne

As much as I’d love to believe this story, yes it has been closed and unworking since 2008, but simple fact of the matter, Somerset Levels….. Levels meaning flat, Somerset… Definition, at the setting of Summer the land too sets. Hence the name. Before the embankments and gulleys and channels were dug hundred and hundreds of years ago by farmers, monks and suchlike, the land of Somerset was underwater most of the year until Summer!
Hence why Glastonbury is known as the Isle of Avalon, maybe because it used to be an island?
Water levels During Roman times were known to be higher than that of today, hence why there are remnants of a Roman Port in Glastonbury….. Now maybe we should just think for one second…. This “phenomena” cannot be blamed on fellow humans, in the world of Jeremy Clarkson “Is it not that we have had quite a lot of rainfall?”. Well yes Jezza, we bloody well have!
As much as we’d love to control mother nature, the simple fact of most of the rivers in the levels are tidal anyway, and most sit with 15-20ft high embankments running along the side of them through the lands…. Maybe its just a simple case of land below sea level is generally going to flood?? Maybe its also a case of we cannot control nature?
If the prediction of “the coldest winter” had been true, we would have snow drifts up to our eyeballs, rooflines, and higher with snowfall, in some places well over 20ft, an we would have still complained about that. We are a nation of complainers who always want to blame someone else…. Sometimes we have to realise that there was nothing we could have done! I have lived on the levels, near the levels and have been Somerset Born and Bred all my life, so before anyone tries to say you don’t know what its like…. My travelling to school (back in the day) has been hindered many times by floods along the levels, I have waded waist deep in water through a friends home trying to save what we could, and helped fill sand bags and try to help rebuild what was once there, but, at the end of the day, if the water wants to go where the water is meant to go…. there’s nothing we can do about it!

Having just read the Peter Taylor Blog at 6am.
I now understand.
Perhaps others might.


Legatus –
Thanks for that detail. As I was reading the earlier comment about the Army Corps of Engineers i was thinking, hang on, they didn’t do it wrong… and now it’s out there what actually happened.
And, not wanting to draw attention too much to my local situation, we did have a flood in Southern Alberta in June 2013. As usual, people were screaming “climate change” for the cause,. But also as usual, they could hardly be more wrong. Higher flood levels have been seen here before. The city and province had been warned many times over the years by independent assessors and companies that the flood damage dangers were increasing and action needed to be taken.
If that action had been taken most Albertans would never have even been aware of flooding. The rivers needed to be dredged, berms built between the rivers and neighborhoods that have historically flooded on a regular basis, and neighborhoods being built were in dangerous locations. Our Olympic Saddledome, built for the 88 Winter Olympics and used by the Calgary Flames, was the subject of bitter criticism for being built right next to a river that floods, and only a few feet above river level. In fact, while building the bridge that washed away on our most major downtown road many years back, the construction site was flooded and half washed away. The response was to simply build it again, ignoring the flooding that year as a unique aberration.
I have yet to see any truly unusual flooding during my lifetime. Nothing has happened here or anywhere that was either unprecedented or the result of truly bad planning. I doubt this will change.
Maybe what we’re fighting isn’t some sort of climate change, but instead a complete lack of logic and foresight in the general population.

Solomon Green

Very enlightening post from Peter Taylor. Thanks. I particularly liked his conclusions and with reference to this ” turbines are a complete waste of money and very damaging”, I would draw attention to this
Both the BBC and ITV managed to give it a mention so low-key that no one that I know ever saw the item.


The important fact seems to have been lost in this thread.
The Somerset Levels were allowed to flood as a deliberate policy because the evil ideology of ‘environmentalism’ placed a higher priority on a bird sanctuary than on the lives and homes of hundreds of families.
I have repeatedly posted the following on various threads of WUWT over recent weeks.
The Somerset Levels are man-made land which will return to being swamp if the drainage system and pumping systems are not maintained. The pumping was reduced and dredging of the rivers was stopped. The result was inevitable. Some properties were flooded last year and everyone on the levels was begging for the needed dredging to be resumed or they would be flooded this year. Their desperate pleas were rejected and they have all been flooded this year.
The unprecedented flooding of the Thames results from a similar policy decision but in that case a higher priority was given to rich residential areas than middle class residential areas.
Four new channels were scheduled to convey water to the sea. One was completed and the funding for the other three was then removed. So, water which in the past provided minor and historically frequent flooding of Windsor is now transported downstream and is added to what used to be minor and historically frequent flooding but is now a disaster.
Cameron promised the Tories would provide the most ‘green’ government the UK has ever had. It is the only election promise he has fulfilled.


This article goes to my top list of stuff to be shown to alarmists during discussions of extreme weather events. Thanks!

You mean it’s government’s fault? No way, that never happens.
Tragedy of the commons indeed. The tragedy is govt which creates these situations and then blames them on the free market.


Slightly off topic, but does anybody know how our wind turbines fared over the last few months or how much electricity they been producing?

Keith Willshaw says:
February 16, 2014 at 3:49 am
Watermelon Manifesto.
See also: NASA “Muslim Outreach”
Shall we bring up the whole anti-science thing?

richardscourtney says:
February 16, 2014 at 6:34 am
The list of “green” failures reads like a litany of vast incompetence in the most charitable interpretation — a fraud of staggering proportions to those of us who are more realistically disposed..


What it probably needs is someone to go to the Huntspill River/Sluice at low tide today and see how much water is being let out now during low tide.
If those sluices are not wide open, both of them on both sides (i.e. all four) and the water is not pouring out as fast as it can possibly do then there is definitely some serious questions to be asked.

Green Sand

Peter Taylor says:
February 16, 2014 at 6:00 am

Boroughbridge? do you mean Burrow Bridge?


The vandals took the handle.


For how the French are using a weir at Mont-Saint-Michel to use just gravity and careful timed releasing of water to help scour sediment from above and below the constriction then visit
and many other sites. I’ve been there and watched it at work. Impressive stuff.
Now if we only could get that well organised!!!