UK & World News

  • 22 January 2014, 5:24

Flood Victims Demanding More Protection

Flood victims across the country are hoping for reassurances that more will be done to prevent a repeat of their recent problems, as those responsible for defences are quizzed in Parliament today.

None more so than the people of Muchelney, the village on the Somerset Levels that has now been cut off for three weeks.

The only way in and out of the picturesque and historic hamlet is by boat, and for the residents here the novelty, and their patience, is wearing thin.

Most of the villagers think the severe flooding here in recent weeks, and in November 2012, has been due to the rivers around the Somerset Levels not being dredged, apractice that was stopped because of the expense involved.

"It's not rocket science," says resident Paul Belding.

"If you let the rivers silt up to half their size, it'll have a massive impact, and dredging is the only way ahead.

"Eighteen years ago the dredgers were out in force in this area. I haven't seen them since."

Defra Minister Dan Rogerson and Environment Agency chief executive Paul Leinster will today face questions from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

The thousands of people affected by the floods will be hoping the meeting will prompt some positive action.

Retired doctors Peter and Elizabeth Nightingale now own a smallholding in the village of Muchelney Ham.

They were flooded for the first time in almost 90 years in 2012, and there is still a foot or more of water still in their home after it flooded again this year.

The couple have around 60 sheep that should have been sold at market in the past couple of weeks, but they simply can't get them there.

"The place is a disaster zone. It's ridiculous in a first world country that the Government doesn't do more to help us and protect us from this sort of thing. It's laughable really," says Mr Nightingale.

"This needs a major effort by the government, not just bits of spending here and there."

Many of the local pumping stations on the Levels are not in use at the moment, because with the rivers still full, there is nowhere for the water to go.

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