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Record numbers of starlings on Somerset Levels

Record numbers of starlings on Somerset Levels Credit: ITV News

Record numbers of starling have been roosting on the Somerset Levels this Winter.

The flock of half a million starling were recorded by conservationists from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who claim it was the biggest number they've seen for years.

Record numbers of starling have been roosting on the Somerset Levels this Winter Credit: ITV News

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Protecting Somerset from floods: Giant pumps tested

Giant pumps tested to help protect Somerset from flooding Credit: ITV News

The Environment Agency has been testing giant pumps designed to help reduce the risk of a repeat of last year's flooding on the Somerset Levels.

The pumps will be on permanent standby at Dunball, ready to suck more than a million tons of water day out of the King's Sedgemoor Drain.

Thousands of twitchers spot rare bird in Somerset

Hudsonian godwit spotted on the Somerset Levels Credit: ITV News

In Somerset more than 1,000 people turned out to see a rare bird that hasn't been seen in the UK for more than 30 years.

The Hudsonian godwit usually spends the winter in South America before heading north, but somehow it took a 4,000 mile detour to the Somerset Levels. It's thought to be just the third recorded sighting here ever - the last was in the early eighties near Exeter.

Alan Ashman was one of the lucky bird watchers who saw the bird at the Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve.

Anti-flooding action plan in Somerset reaches second stage

Work is beginning on phase two of the action plan to try to prevent another flood on the scale of last year's crisis on the Somerset Levels.

After a £6 million dredging project, attention is turning to managing the land further upstream. The plans are to slow the flow of water into the river system by digging ponds and planting trees.

We always knew that we'd be working to more of a medium to long term solution which would be the management of the land so tackling some of the problem at the source rather than the symptoms, if you like, of the water.

– Ben Thorne, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group
Plans are being implement to slow the flow of water into the Levels

Flooding on the Somerset Levels a year on

Flooding on the Somerset Levels a year ago Credit: ITV News

This weekend marks a year since a "major incident" was declared on the Somerset Levels.

The worst floods ever seen there prompted huge support for local residents, some of whom have still not returned to normal life. But this winter many of them are looking forward with new confidence.

You look at it now and you can see that the river's flowing quite nicely. There's a big capacity there and I feel really happy to be living where we live.

– REBECCA HORSINGTON, Flooding on the Levels Action Group

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Calls to end building on the floodplain

Flooding on the Somerset Levels last February Credit: PA

Insurers have warned flood defence spending must rise to a £1 billion a year over the next decade to prevent scenes like those which devastated Somerset last winter.

The Association of British Insurers is also calling for an end to building new homes in flood-risk areas.

It says some 20,000 new properties are being built on the floodplain each year, including 4,000 in places where there is significant risk of flooding.

Government promises £15.5m for flood defences

More than £4 million will go to flood prevention on the Somerset Levels & Moors Credit: PA

The Government will spend £15.5 million on flood defences in Somerset over the next six years.

More than £4 million (4.2) will be spent on the Somerset Levels and moors.

7,000 properties are expected to benefit from the money - which is part of at least £35 million committed to Somerset over the next eight years.

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