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.