Natural England downgrades Somerset Levels

In a report published this morning Natural England (NE) has downgraded the environmental condition of the Somerset Levels. The Levels and Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) continues to suffer water quality issues. Today the status of the area has been graded ‘unfavourable declining’.

The downgrade follows extensive monitoring of water quality across the Levels.

Phosphate levels are three times higher than they should be. NE believe this is causing biological harm and producing algae and duckweed that is harmful to wildlife.

NE state that the primary sources of phosphates are from agricultural activities and water industry discharges. In other words farming and sewage treatment plants. Natural England Area Manager for Wessex, Matt Heard, told The Leveller® “The Somerset Levels are much loved and internationally important for wildlife, home to tens of thousands of birds, rare plants and insect life. There is widespread evidence that nutrient pollution is causing biological harm in the waterways of the Levels. As a result of this, Natural England must change the status of SSSIs on the Somerset Levels to ‘unfavourable declining’.”

Many planning applications in the Levels area and the catchments that feed it are now on hold.


  • Martin R Cooke

    This will be interesting to follow,the planning applications within the boundary of STCO
    The parish council that surrounds the City of Wells

  • Arthur Richards

    Oh this is sad news indeed

  • Natural England downgraded Somerset Levels

    The writer sometime member, Mendip District Council, in those formative quadrennials. CPRE an essential ‘consultee’ on planning consultations, permitted to whither on the vine; the writer would exhort ‘membership’ of every parish/town council a ‘continuing’ agenda, more so consequent the envisaged HMGs, anticipated further erosion of ‘local’ democracy input. (Daily Telegraph: 15 May 2021, Ian Duncan Smith ‘Prepare for the Tory backlash against new planning rules’ pace Jenrick MP, Tower Hamlets imbroglio.

    You’ve identified the ‘Achilles’ heel at whither the ‘buck-stops’? A plethora of ‘quango’s’ pace Natural England, some ‘score’ or so other ‘claimants’ therein the misnomer of ‘multi-agency’ whither the ‘lead’!

    The entire ‘management’ of the ANOBs/Wetlands/Rivers require a ‘root & branch’ review pace the ‘multiplicity’ of ‘representations’ with a delineated reformed ‘management’ infrastructure. (Whither the buck stops?)

    A ‘priority’ in the event a ‘Unitary’ authority across Somerset, a ‘unique’ opportunity to be seized?

  • Graham Livings

    Natural England downgraded Somerset Levels


    In a ‘nut-shell’ too many cooks spoil the broth’!

  • So what are they going to do about it? No good spending money on reports if there’s no action to make improvements.

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