Dear People of Somerset

Don’t worry,

We are on our way with specialist equipment and amphibious vehicles

Not this kind of amphibious vehicle

Because we flogged them off donkeys years ago, no need you see.

Have you tried any museums, or these chaps?

mmm, maybe not

We do have loads of these

Cool video eh, might be a bit cramped but the machine guns will put the shitters right up those Environment Agency fellas, what was that about dredging?

Oh, hang on a minute, didn’t we invent the hovercraft, surely we have bloody hundreds of the things?

Look at this

In service with the Royal Marines and made just down the road in Southampton

Bloody fantastic

How many, what, are you kidding?

Ah, apparently, so I have just been told, we do have some, how many fingers do you have on one hand, cut one off.

It can carry 2.4 tonnes which is a shed load of tins of beans and loaves of bread but as you can see, we might need ‘many hands’ to actually offload anything because it doesn’t have a vehicle ramp.

Tell you what though, the nice people that make them have a bigger version that carries loads more and has a bloody great big ramp so you can drive vehicles on and off.

Clever or what?

Great British enterprise and ingenuity, sold all over the world, earlier versions in service with India, Saudi Arabia, Korea and Singapore whilst the really smart one in the video is in service with our bezzy mates in Sweden

Of course we can send you some of those.

Oh, hang on a minute.

None in service you say.

No requirement you say.

Not much call for hovercraft in the desert you say.

We can definitely fill sandbags though, really big ones.

See you soon

Love and hugs

The MoD




Oh look, amphibious vehicles are on their way, fantastic news.

See, this is the MoD swinging into action at a moments notice.

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=” “]

Don’t tell anyone though, these aren’t actually MoD owned vehicles, they used to be, but as usual we sold them at the first opportunity and are in fact being provided by Leavesley International, just off the A38 in Staffordshire.





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January 30, 2014 6:17 pm

Why, thank you @TD. I’ll see if I can borrow some lilo’s from Weston-Super-Mare :-)

PS Do ISO containers float?

January 30, 2014 6:19 pm

Just brilliant!!!
Shades of a Bird and Fortune sketch, poking fun at the absurdities of the way our great nation bumbles along!

January 30, 2014 6:46 pm

we did floating ISOs in the ship to shore series. I reckon just half fill them and wrap well in clingfilm. Jobs a good un

January 30, 2014 7:06 pm

Dear People of Somerset,

We spent all the money on train sets for London, so fuck you.

The Coalition.

dave haine
dave haine
January 30, 2014 8:20 pm

3 Weeks ago,
Local Council: Hellpp!
Environment Agency: It’s a flood plain….
Local MP to CmD: somerset’s flooded….people are cut off,

2 Weeks ago,
Local council: MOD Hellpp!
Environment Agency: Of course there is nothing we could have done, dredging the rivers wouldn’t have helped despite not having a flood for the twenty years when we were dredging.
Local MP to CmD: somerset’s still flooded

1 Week ago,
Local Council: Red cross Hellpp! This is now an emergency area
Environment Agency: Nothing to do with us…..
Local MP to CmD: somerset’s still flooded….
CmD: …..

3 days ago
Local council: Hellpp!
Environment Secretary: Oh dear, are you all right?
Environment Agency: Nothing to do with us….
Local MP to CmD: flooding, somerset?

Local council: Oh for f**ks sake…..
Environment Agency: Nothing to do with us…..
Local MP to CmD: we’re losing voters
CmD: Quick call the Army, send the Civil Emergency Reserve, Let me be seen taking control….
MOD: Oh! The Red Cross got there first, with a Unimog….

January 30, 2014 9:04 pm

MOD: Right finally given the green light, where do you need us first?
Local Council: The Environment Agency has the lead on tracking rivers.
MOD: Ok. Right EA Rep, where do you need us?
Environment Agency: Once the river overflows, road/street blockages are the responsibility of the Council to track.
MOD: So basically you’ve spent almost a month waiting for help and now we have to wait, until we can undertake our own recce?
CmD: Here’s a press photographer. Can you rustle up a spare Landie to run him around the county and take pictures of us doing something. Preferably before the 6 o’clock news. Ta very much.

January 30, 2014 9:19 pm

I would rather funds be spent on the EA and Emergency services to respond to – arguably – the UK’s major natural hazard… rather than some great flipping amphib that will be based hundreds of miles away from where it’d be needed and which would often be even more hundreds of miles away on some RFA ship anyway.

Sorry TD, good points alluded to here, but I’d argue that it should be more on equipping and planning for our emergency services, rather than another excuse to siphon money to the military.
Lets be honest, apart from Helicopters and manpower, the MoD has never really been as brilliant as others.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
January 30, 2014 9:41 pm

The Marines had some MAN engined DUKWs in service at Instow a couple of years back. Have those finally been retired? According to Wiki:

The Royal Marines use five of these vehicles for training at 11 (Amphibious Trials and Training) Squadron, 1 Assault Group Royal Marines at Instow, North Devon. Four were manufactured between 1943 and 1945. The fifth consists of a DUKW hull copy manufactured in 1993 and fitted with unused, World War II vintage running gear parts. In 1999, a refurbishment program began to extend their service life to 2014.

The DUKWs are used for safety, allowing all ranks to undertake training drills for boat work for the landing craft ranks, and drivers undertaking wading drills from the Landing Craft Utility.

paul g
January 30, 2014 10:14 pm

Chris.B. January 30, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Dear People of Somerset,

We spent all the money on train sets for London, so fuck you.

The Coalition. (well the labour party, who gave it to us, then laughed as their shitarse costings went through the roof)

dave haine
dave haine
January 30, 2014 10:34 pm

Meanwhile, the first ambulance chaser lawyer has made it to Muchelney…boy ain’t they gonna have fun!….

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 30, 2014 11:04 pm

A few months back, I saw some mad Russian in the middle of nowhere had built a 4×4 Chelsea Tractor that was amphibious. Quite an impressive video. Got me thinking, its a shame Land Rover does not make something like that. An amphib Discovery would be quite handy in Somerset now.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 30, 2014 11:22 pm

We haven’t sent the military, rather we sent two marines to have a look around and see what is happening, but the military could well have been called in earlier too provide landing craft etc to help reach villages. I seem to remember them being called to rescue some cars the other week. Also they are sent too help with disasters in other countries why not in the UK as well. Other than that it is one big fuck up by everyone involved.

January 31, 2014 12:15 am

Many years back there were heavy floods round Chichester. Within a few days the Army had joined forces with the fire service and combinations of very powerful pumps attached to foot-diameter aluminium pipes and Bailey bridges sprung up all over the place. Very impressive. And elsewhere some temporary flyovers have been known to last for some time – how many years did the iron flyover last outside Bristol Temple Meads? (I used to drive over it each week; I thought it was fun – bit of a shame to see its been taken away really.) The problem in Somerset is that there’s just so much under water its difficult to see what value Bailey bridging might be, unless miles of roads including junctions were to be constructed. Its just not the same problem as leap-frogging a hundred yard long deep puddle.

While I have great sympathy with those affected by the floods there, its hard to see what action would have prevented them – the levels are a flood plain, as are the low lying fields along the Arun by Pulborough down here in Sussex, and in periods of extreme persistent rainfall the flood plains will – well – flood. Its what they do, its what they’ve done for centuries. Dredging rivers when the land is absolutely flat really won’t dramatically increase run-off rate. According to the OS map, the terrain remains at 5m ASL from the coast at Burnham on Sea right up to Glastonbury, Somerton and around to the outskirts of Taunton – no gradient at all for best part of fifteen miles, nor any height above sea level. It really doesn’t matter how big the pipe is, if it has no slope its not going to move water away. Short of massive pumping stations (really really massive, like 50-100m3 per second, the rate that some of the swollen rivers were flowing at) I don’t see what intervention could have stopped the flooding.

So as far as I see the arguments have to revolve around mitigation measures – could farmers have been temporarily put on Council payroll to provide emergency transport by tractor & trailer (while working on their land was impossible anyway) – most modern tractors are huge tall beasties much more able to wade along submerged roads than the odd Police Landie or lorry-based fire engine. The Red Cross Unimog did quite well though; should the council have a stock of them? Not cheap, Unimogs, so that would hurt the council tax. Cheaper to put an emergency boat with outboard in a council boathouse in each village…

Come to think of it, second hand BTR60s and BMP1s and PT76s would probably be cheap too – Soviet Sourced Somerset Rescue? SSSR, or in Cyrillic script CCCP

January 31, 2014 9:05 am

On the other hand we could just leave the whole place flooded and build wooden walk ways every where like in the good old days before the Romans. Instead of farming you just walk down your walkways with a shotgun and blast away your harvest. Seeing as every other resident of somerset seems to be a spaniel I cant see how this would fail to be popular. I had a lot of fun walking my dogs the last time this happend (I have now moved to higher ground), waste deep in water holding my ipod over my head. I have lived on the levels most my life but have shamefully learned nothing about farming, but it does not seem to be the most productive farmland and always thought that it might actually be more productive as a swamp if the right approach was taken.

Gloomy Northern Boyr
Gloomy Northern Boyr
January 31, 2014 10:59 am

@Zaitzev – much inclined to agree – in the end the cost of re-organising two or three large areas like Somerset and the Fens into proper wetland, investing to re-create a modernised wetland economy and compensating people for loss and relocation onto high ground (these places were always populated on that basis) would be a better solution than our current policy of spending billions in a fruitless effort to hold back the sea…

I’d also favour re-foresting and re wilding upland areas as well, and for the same reason – in the end we are a service/high tech economy that doesn’t need to use marginal land to grow food – there are better and healthier wats to feed ourselves (including much more wild game ranching in the re-wilded areas).

Then we bring the wolves, bears and european bison – stop worrying about the wild boar – and get the wild whit cattle ready for freedom…


The Ginge
The Ginge
January 31, 2014 11:05 am

Have to say the original piece did make me chuckle. Also weren’t the majors from the Army Engineering regiment the one assigned to the Royal Marines that is being disbanded ?
However some of the subsequant bits show how little people understand living in a flat place. I live in East Anglia with the Fens being 3 times the size of the Somerset Levels. Before Xmas we had a storm surge combined with a Spring High Tide, which for East Anglia is the worst combination. Luckily for us the defences built in the 50’s and 60’s held by the skin of their teeth. But they took a right battering and we now have huge holes in the shingle banks on the North Norfolk coast that the wonderful chaps at the Enviroment Agency think that they may not repair as it’ll cost a few 10’s of thousands of pounds. As there are not many houses directly behind these banks they are saying loosing a few 100 acres of farm land and fresh water habitat is ok. Like those in Somerset telling the brand new shinny welly brigade with a degree in Enviromental Sciences that they had to dredge, people here are saying once that bank goes over 1,500 Sqkm goes with it. In 10yrs time when the next storm surge hits the defences won’t hold out because the EA thinks it’s ok to “manage the retreat”.
As for the idea that a lot of people in the EA have of “returning areas to there pre drainage era” what a load of B******s. If you want to live next to a masive swamp full of malaria invested mosquitos go ahead, we don’t. If you want to give up the place where 90% of the UK’s Fresh Veg is grown with some of the best agricultural land in the world, away you go. Our ancestors didn’t drain and manage these areas for fun, but for profit and to improve the country. In the Fens the anti dredging mafia in EA are at work and it will be next. We already have to lift Millions of gallons of water a year to get the water out of the catchment area now, including the Great Ouse that runs all the way back to the Bedord Levels. (yes the river in Bedford runs out to sea in Norfolk after being lifted about 3 to 10feet up to flow to the sea.) But there are movements that want to let the rivers silt up and save the wildlife creating “wonderful diverse living habitats of mud”. Unfortuatley our whole island and landscape is man made. Even the wild Highland moors are the result of sheep farming and used to be covered in trees not heather.
So it’s about time Goevenment got back to doing what is should do, what it did do for 100’s of years and thats to look after us and the surrounding enviroment for human benefit and not the leser spotted black jack badger mole.
Rant complete I am off to get the big white jacket with long arms.

January 31, 2014 11:09 am

@GNB, @Zaitsev: I think you describe the Environment Agency’s attitude very well. But given the major works that have been done over the last few hundred years, the maintenance cost is not prohibitive. I see the re-establishment of local control and funding over the area as the solution. If us Wurzels are happy to pay for the works, then the Levels will continue. If not, the changes you describe will happen over decades anyway. I don’t see the need for “big plans” :-)

January 31, 2014 11:47 am

TG – I didn’t advocate turfing the Somerset Levels into the sea, nor vast acres of East Anglia. I understand sea defences and that they are an engineering solution to holding back high seas. The issue with the current Somerset problem is that it is water from inland, run-off from surrounding hills added to direct rainfall collection, that has no reason to go away. The water rests on saturated ground that is to all intent completely flat with rifes cut for drainage that also have no gradient. In truth the channels on the Somerset levels are drainage sumps more than flowing waterways – sort of soakaways without the agregate filling. Fine for modest rainfall, where the channels will fill with run-off from the fields and then drain away gently both slowly toward the sea and into the ground. But once they are full, and the ground is saturated, there really isn’t anywhere for the water to go; not without mechanical propulsion anyway. This is a completely different issue to the building of mud stone & concrete ramparts to keep the sea out.

As I understand it, the low lying flat lands of East Anglia were not flood plains but salt marshes? With the exception of the Broads it seems ground elevation slopes up to 30m or so ASL within a couple of miles of the coast; the flat lands of Norfolk being around the 30m mark, rising to 60m ASL over much of Suffolk. By contrast the flood plains of the Levels and of large parts of central Sussex lie around 5m ASL, which is exactly the height at the foreshore. No gradient for the moving of water. And in both cases (Somerset & Sussex) the plains are surrounded by hills which will naturally drain towards the lower ground. I can’t speak for Somerset, but locally down here the majority of the population accept that these areas flood; the established villages, farms, towns etc are sited on the slightly higher ground because that was sensible; the fields likely to be flooded are used for grazing (if at all) because the animals are more mobile than crops. Only building developers seem to find flood risks unimportant…

January 31, 2014 11:50 am

@The Gringe i merely expressed it as a thought (mainly because i thought it was a funny idea) as some one who dosnt know anything about farming in the area. However im not sure how much the arguments you made for norfolk apply to somerset, im not sure that we grow much of anything at all. The most common crop around where i live seems to be long grass to burn in powerstations, but if a somerset farmer who happens to know that somerset produces %90 of the contries turnips tells me I dont know what im talking about then he is assuredly right. I cant be accused of being the “new shinny welly brigade” as i was just expressing a thought not trying to impose my views on the peoples whos lively hood relies on these lands. Also seeing as the main advatage to creating the wetland for me would be to allow my dogs to chace waterfoul and to shoot them i can hardley be accused of being overly concerned with caring about the black jack badger mole more than humans.

January 31, 2014 12:05 pm

I should say the part of somerset i live, which is very flat. some other villages around on hills do seem to have crops in some of the feilds, and there are a few animals in the feilds around where i live but not much.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 31, 2014 12:05 pm

Given the unlimited immigration of the last sixteen years, can we afford to have prime farmland drowned? We cannot find £4 million for dredging, yet can find £11 billion for foreign aid. If dredging does take place, I hope they use some of that silt to make earth barriers to protect vulnerable farms/hamlets/villages.

January 31, 2014 12:08 pm

The EA is a typical socialist organisation. It regards the human inhabitants of the UK as ignorant and evil and would much rather they all be relocated to a densely packed strip of land along the Thames (or eradicated some other way, they are not fussy- see the Lib Dems use of energy policy to murder the elderly) so that their efforts to return Britain to a mythical pre-human (and therefore “liberal”) state.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 31, 2014 12:33 pm

@The Ginge & wf – I too am suspicious of big bureaucracies and keen to recreate local solutions to these matters – so very happy for you web-footed chaps to keep on ditching and dredging to your hearts content. I will concentrate on re-wilding the upland into forest.

Now off to source some wolves…


January 31, 2014 12:45 pm

Hartley: doubtless in the spirit of “lets screw everyone until they give up”, apparently farmers are not allowed to spread silt from dredging on their fields anymore. It’s toxic waste you know :-)

January 31, 2014 1:07 pm

its listed under the exemptions. Those communists must have been to busy murdering old people to notice ey dereck?

January 31, 2014 1:16 pm

wf, Zaitsev: hilarious. Thanks for that!

dave haine
dave haine
January 31, 2014 1:56 pm

It isn’t the flooding as such-we’re kind of used to that, it’s the fact that the water has stayed for so long. And what has really got up the noses down here is the fact that it happened last year as well.

In fact there is a history of neglecting the levels, ever since the Kings Sedgemoor Drain was built in 1791, from various bodies, set up to manage such affairs. Anyhow, the last great improvement was in 1939- which even the war couldn’t stop!

However after the last flooding in the seventies the Drainage boards undertook to dredge the Parrett, Tone and the drain, to maintain the flow rate. Which indeed worked very well, until the EA decided to stop dredging. as a result of the decision to stop dredging, they found they needed to reduce the pumping rate at the pumping stations because the rivers couldn’t take the flow. It’s funny, that while the dredging happened, the waters all receded quickly…..

The other thing that, has really got up our noses is the fact that the EA, despite being given a very public shoeing, are still saying that certain ‘vulnerable’ households will have to be moved, despite most of these houses having been built over 200yrs ago…

BTW, the farm land that is now underwater, was either good arable land, the farmers of which, having lost a crop last year, planted up another in the hope that this would be a better season… Or good grazing land, which after using up last years winter feed, the farmers laid in extra this year hoping to make good….

The current estimate is the 2/3rds of the 500 or so farms and agricultural businesses will not survive…which as you might imagine will have a devastating effect on the local economy.

And in the greatest irony of all…..these floods have decimated the wildlife- most hedgerow birds are gone, all the kingfishers, almost all the smaller mammals, and most of the larger ones too. (This flood has probably done what the badger cull couldn’t do). The foxes that survived have subsequently starved to death.

And we’ve got clowns from the RSPB looking for donations to help the wildlife…….looks like they’re a bit bloody late too…..

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
January 31, 2014 2:18 pm

Do we still have the G1098 recce boat one per RE troop. Not much use but as Tesco says … and it is little. I have looked on Google for a photo but so far in vain. TD I appeal to your skill at this.

Ace Rimmer
January 31, 2014 4:56 pm

UK Government sucks, did they look to George W Bush’s reaction to New Orleans for inspiration?

I found it somewhat ironic that despite not investing in river dredging, the Environment Agency spent £31 million on a bird sanctuary…

January 31, 2014 6:43 pm

In response to those saying “ah it’s a flood plain, let it flood”, it’s worth reiterating what David H said in that for many, many years the worst of problems had been avoided due to various measures like dredging, and its long been recognised that additional expenditure of a reasonable amount could solve some of the more serious long term issues. But now the EA appears to have just given up on people because there’s “no money for major infrastructure upgrades”.

Meanwhile HS2 looms large on the horizon, costing somewhere between £40-70bn…

February 2, 2014 10:04 am

Much is made of dredging, but:
1) Are you comparing like with like? Is the rainfall and the resulting floodwaters that quickly dispersed decades ago the same magnitude as the current ones?
2) Is the volume of the river channel the bottleneck? It will make sod-all difference to the end result if the bottleneck is really how fast the water can be pumped into the ocean.
3) it was my understanding that the fertility of the flood plain derives from the silt deposited on it when the river floods. If you stop the river flooding, do you not lose this?
4) is it worth it? Are the subsidised crops of a couple of hundred farmers worth the cost? Are a couple of hundred farmers more important than a couple of thousand people on the other side of the country (although having to put up with screechy Essex accents for most of yesterday, I would be inclined to say yes)
5) Yes, HS2 is a sucky idea and should be abandoned with the money diverted into something worthwhile. Skylon or a third parallel rail line?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
February 2, 2014 11:18 am


In great agreement. A mucker in Montacute had his dairy flooded twice, another near Curry Rivel has shipped his cattle to his brother’s place in Devon at a cost of nearly £10k.

Both of them effing and blinding about the EA. They don’t mind paying taxes for lesbo outreach coordinators in Notting Hill, but do mind when the EA stop dredging and they lose their entire profit for the year.

February 2, 2014 11:46 am

One of the worlds greatest civilisations came into being because of a flooding river. Which shows that flooding is not an always bad thing. So you have two options:

(a) adapt to the flooding. You can do this by growing certain crops that do well in such situations and moving residences away from flood plains.

(b) fight the flooding. This is different. This is where you “keep calm and carry on” sticking a big two fingers up at nature. To do this requires resources. Who should pay?

There’s arguments for simply not building in such areas in the first place and for defending those areas already built on and defending further builds. Again who pays?

dave haine
dave haine
February 2, 2014 5:11 pm

@ Phil

There indeed is the nub….However, like the fens, the somerset levels used to have it’s own drainage board, which happily maintained the moors, by using a mix of dredging and water management, which means the land was let to flood, but decent cleared waterways meant that it would drain quickly.

The EAs first action, having usurped the drainage boards, was to stop dredging, because they wanted to return the levels to their ‘natural’ state, (under pressure from the green fascists and wildlife pressure groups- although pressure on an open door, you might say), bit difficult, to do that really, because the levels are largely a man-made landscape anyway. I understand that the first statement of the first director, was that she’d like to to blow up the pumping stations.

Ever since, the locals have felt a bit under siege, as well as the normal paranoia that country folk have because we seem to be a very town-oriented society.

I have to say having met the EA regional Director, in a social setting, I’m not surprised this happened- let’s just say he was unpleasantly focused on the needs of the wildlife, and completely anti-rural communities, he was heard to say that people should get out of the way if they didn’t like it, and he was sure there were jobs in the city for everyone. Shame really, because the bloke he said that to had a farm that had been in his family since the 1600s, and he had ‘views’ on that comment.

The problem is not the flooding, it’s the fact that its flooded for 5 weeks now…and the fact that the flooded area is way beyond it’s normal area. Some of the localised flooding has happened because the water has nowhere to go- the rivers don’t carry away the water as they should.

Been to somerset? You’ll see that all the villages are generally on the hillocks and raises, so it’s an environment, that is prepared for flooding…

Somerset County Council, have suggested something akin to the dyke money, that everyone pays in the fens (if they still do- my information comes from a work colleague many years ago)

February 2, 2014 6:05 pm

Finally someone has decided to bring something better to the party in Somerset. A pair of BV206s.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 2, 2014 7:33 pm

Yes the ancient Egyptian civilisation rose thanks to the flooding of the Nile making the fields fertile, but the order arose to build the irrigation, that controlled the flood. It was not a free for all.