UK & World News
Floods: Somerset Abandoned - Glasto Founder
Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis has hit out at the government for "abandoning" dredging of Somerset rivers 40 years ago.
"The EA decided to abandon the dredging for the sake of the river bank and they sold the wonderful dredging machines for scrap," said the dairy farmer.
"Can you believe it? That was 40 years ago. This (flooding) is the result of that decision."
He said it only used to be that the area flooded every 20 years. "There is flooding every year now; it's a serious disaster, a serious problem. It's impossible to live there and run the whole dairy industry.
"We've been campaigning for years to get this sorted out. Finally, I think the Prime Minister is going to deal with it and get the money to do the job, but it's taken a long time to get there."
He said the EA needs "to drain, to get the machines back we used to have or something similar, to dredge the three rivers that go to Burnham-on-Sea so we can get the water out to the sea as fast as possible".
He said the mud at his famous music festival was a different matter. "Mud is totally different to 10 feet of water - the sun comes out and in three weeks its all gone.
Mr Eavis, who farms at Pilton, on the edge of the Somerset Levels, spoke out after its was announced that Prince Charles will visit flood-stricken communities in the South West.
The Prince will meet emergency services involved in the relief effort and residents who remain trapped in villages cut off by water after the wettest January on record.
The visit, on Tuesday, had been planned in advance of the floods for Charles to learn how communities coped with similar problems in 2012.
In the village of Stoke St Gregory, he will host a reception for residents, farmers and emergency service workers who have been affected by the flooding on the Somerset Levels.
He is likely to receive a warmer reception than Environment Secretary Owen Paterson who received a hostile reaction from locals when he visited on Monday.
Residents said they were living in "Third World" conditions - with "overflowing" septic tanks and water in their homes.
Military personnel are currently on standby to move in to flood-hit Somerset, with further heavy rain and high tides due to hit parts of the UK in the next 48 hours.
An amber severe weather warning has been issued by the Met Office for southwest England on Friday, parts of which have been flooded for more than a month.
The public has been warned of significant disruption from flooding across the Somerset Levels.
Pat Flaherty, deputy chief executive of Somerset County Council, said: "With potential for high winds and high tides and more rain... falling on an already soaked catchment we have potential for further flooding over the weekend.
"And with that, ongoing flooding for a number of weeks to come.
"We're still working very closely with the military who remain in Somerset, planning with us and we also have the resilience of knowing that their equipment and personnel are ready to be mobilised should we require them."
The Ministry of Defence has tweeted that personnel involved in helping with Somerset floods are drawn from all three services, with the majority from Taunton-based 40 Commando Royal Marines.
In addition to vehicle crews, up to 100 military personnel are on stand-by for duties likely to include sandbag filling and loading.
The Red Cross has also sent its 7.5-ton Unimog, an emergency supply vehicle capable of driving through deep floodwater.
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