Extra flood protection for West Somerset

    Extra flood protection for West Somerset

    Extra flood protection for West Somerset

    Monday 11 April 2016

    This year there is a new charge on West Somerset council tax bills for the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA).

    The SRA’s purpose is to provide an extra level of flood protection for families and communities across Somerset.

    Work in West Somerset

    Since its launch in January 2015, the SRA has been busy countywide, with schemes in West Somerset including flood risk management measures, mostly drainage improvements, around Minehead, Holford, Sampford Brett, Bicknoller, Wootton Courtenay and Washford.

    The SRA has also funded channel maintenance work, including the paring-back by hand of trees and bushes on the Horner between West Luccombe, near Porlock, and Horner Green. Along this stretch, which has traditional Exmoor cottages and the popular Burrowhayes Farm caravan park and campsite nearby, plus two fine packhorse bridges and a road bridge, there was a risk that fallen wooden debris might exacerbate flooding.

    SRA plans for 2016/17 include the reinstatement of annual maintenance to West Somerset streams (Doniford Stream, Horner Water, Traphole Stream and Washford River), plus natural flood management activities to be carried out with the West Somerset Flood Group and numerous parishes.

    Work across Somerset

    Across Somerset, around £2.5m – raised through council tax – will be spent on a wide range of activities that focus on reducing the severity and impact of all types of flooding. Plans for 2016/17 prioritise extra maintenance to rivers, roads and structures, such as pumping stations, as existing funding is not enough to cover the county’s needs.

    In total, 28 different maintenance activities are proposed. These include:

    • repair and removal of blockages from an extra 700 culverts
    • more frequent gully clearing, new preventative jetting and road sweeping in areas most susceptible to flooding, particularly rural areas
    • dredging and desilting
    • reducing runoff in built-up areas and ensuring that existing sustainable urban drainage schemes are effective
    • providing development funding for a major scheme to store water above Taunton
    • continuing to invest in helping communities to become more resilient to flooding and its impacts 

    The SRA is also planning to use money raised through council tax for six key projects, including:

    • a contribution to a £4m scheme in Cannington, which will enable it to go ahead, bringing protection to over 200 houses
    • improvements to pumping stations and water control structures across the Levels
    • trialling of setting-back the banks of the River Brue to ensure that future maintenance can take place safely
    What other work will Somerset Rivers Authority fund?

    In addition to the funding provided by Somerset’s local authorities, the SRA receives funding from Somerset’s Internal Drainage Boards and the Heart of the South West LEP Growth Deal.

    In 2016/17, these funds will be used to deliver:

    • additional channel maintenance
    • a major scheme to enhance the capacity of the River Sowy / King’s Sedgemoor Drain river system
    • to dredge further stretches of the rivers Parrett and the Brue
    • develop the Bridgwater Barrier project
    • join forces with the Royal Bath and West led ‘Hills to Levels’ project in funding a capital grant scheme for natural flood management in Somerset 

    For more information, email sra@somerset.gov.uk, visit www.somersetriversauthority.org.uk or phone 01823 357824.