Somerset communities call for greater action on climate adaptation

Sunrise from Burrow Mump, Somerset Levels - Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

A new report, produced by the Adapting the Levels project, has revealed that communities on the Somerset Levels are united in their desire for increased action on climate adaptation.

The report has been produced following a number of well attended public drop-ins, and workshops with local Parish, District and County Councillors. It explores local people's ideas for managing the increased risks of flooding and drought brought by climate change.

The summary leaflet and full 40-page report is available at www.adaptingthelevels.co.uk

Cllr Clare Paul, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health & Climate Change, attended the events. She said: “Initiatives like Adapting the Levels can help our communities come together and take action, making it possible for us to minimise the impacts of climate change and take full advantage of the opportunities available, ensuring Somerset is strong and resilient for generations to come. I was delighted at the level of attendance at the events (which took place prior to Covid19) which shows how this is so significant for those of us who live and work on the Levels, now and in the future.  The drop-ins were informative and thought-provoking, and I thank all those involved with this. My son and I loved the Augmented Reality Sandbox.”

Comments from the events highlighted a desire for leadership from national, regional and local government, and a recognition that the issues of flooding, drought and sea-level rise need to be tackled collaboratively.

The report highlights overwhelming support for the wider adoption of nature-based solutions to flooding and drought, with 93% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that these options need to be a major part of the solution. A whole range of ideas were raised, from ponds, trees and water butts in individual gardens, to mass tree planting, the creation of dew ponds and leaky dams on the hills and using amenity or agricultural land as temporary floodwater storage. 

These kinds of approaches have been used by local projects such as Triple C and Hills to Levels. Thanks to funding from Interreg 2 Seas European Regional Development Fund and Somerset Rivers Authority, these projects have already reduced flood risk in Somerset though hundreds of small-scale natural flood management interventions.

Land management was another hot topic, with wide recognition that local farmers are key to the success of nature-based solutions. The community were supportive of new subsidy schemes, which could pay farmers for making their land available to hold floodwaters, lock-up carbon and improve wildlife habitats.

The ideas shared at the events have been used to create a plan to help Somerset adapt to climate change. The next step is the launch of an innovative virtual tool which will allow people to edit and comment on these plans, helping to create a shared vision for the future of our communities.  Join the Adapting the Levels mailing list to hear more about this in early 2021.

To find out more about the project and read the whole report visit www.adaptingthelevels.co.uk

Adapting the Levels is a partnership project being delivered by Somerset County Council, the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West, and Somerset Wildlife Trust, with funding from the Interreg 2 Seas European Regional Development Fund and Somerset Rivers Authority. The project will run until March 2023.

 

**ENDS**

 

Project Events

The two large public drop-ins and four smaller workshops with Parish, District and County Councillors were held between December 2019 and March 2020. The purpose of these events was to share accurate information about local climate change projections for the Somerset Levels and Moors, nature-based solutions to flooding and drought, and introduce the adaptation pathways process of planning for climate change adaptation. 

About the Adapting The Levels Project

The Adapting The Levels project is working with policy makers, infrastructure experts, landowners, farmers and communities to create a climate resilient vision for the Somerset Levels. The project is a partnership involving Somerset Wildlife Trust, the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) SouthWest and Somerset County Council. 

Adapting The Levels is part of a larger EU Climate Adaptation project called Co-Adapt which involves 12 partners spanning 4 countries; UK, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. The other UK based projects are the Porlock Vale Streams Project, led by the National Trust and the River Culm Catchment Project in Devon and parts of Somerset, led by the Blackdown Hills AONB.

Co-Adapt has received a total of €7 million from the Interreg 2 Seas funding programme - a European Territorial Cooperation Programme. The Programme is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Somerset Rivers Authority has also provided match funding for Adapting The Levels.

Adapting the Levels logo banner