A few people have asked to see my letter published in the Times today in response to Alice Thomson's piece on the Somerset Levels last week.

Here is the text as we submitted it.  A cut-down version appears online - which you can only read if you have a subscription.

Sir, We are pleased to reassure Alice Thomson (“We can’t allow Somerset to sink into a swamp”, Feb 5) that we have no desire to see the Somerset Levels devoid of people and farms. The devastating floods are as bad for wildlife as they are devastating for people. There are no winners.

Working with local communities, we share a common vision for landscapes rich in wildlife, such as otters, bitterns and eels, where people enjoy a thriving economy based on the region’s special qualities. 

By 2030, re-established cranes, lost for centuries, will get a bird’s eye view of a green grid-iron of rhynes and droves, delineating meadows where farmers rear quality livestock cheek-by-jowl with wildlife. Water has always been central to the Somerset Levels, but by managing flood risks and controlling levels, we trust local communities will once again enjoy their wetland landscapes.

This bold vision requires political leadership, courage and investment to achieve. The reward will be a flourishing region, proud of its natural assets and heritage.


RSPB Conservation Director

Sandy, Beds

  • Martin, Excellent vision but it will need all groups involved in this.  The farming community will need common representation to work with this but having seen my local news this evening I do wonder where this will come from. One of the farmers was asked how much support he was getting from the NFU.  His answer was 'Nothing'- or to be correct the answer went on for several sentences with various expletives bleeped out. It is important that a consensus is achieved here for the sake of all parties.