UK: Dredging to Prevent Flooding in Somerset?
The chairman and chief executive of the Somerset Consortium of Drainage Boards described a meeting with two Defra ministers on the Somerset Levels to discuss flooding as ‘encouraging’.
Peter Maltby, Chairman, and Nick Stevens, Chief Executive, pressed the case for Government to help fund flood alleviation works for the Somerset Levels with Farming Minster David Heath and Environment Minister Richard Benyon.
Nick Stevens said: “They recognised that starting a dredging programme is key to making progress on a whole range of issues affecting land and environmental management on the Levels and Moors.
“They did not reject the idea that Defra would make a contribution to the dredging programme, but were unable to give any firm commitment because of the embargo on ministerial announcements in the run up to the local elections next month.”
The Drainage Boards are demanding the dredging of the Rivers Parrett and Tone at an estimated cost of £3.5 million to avoid a repeat of the disastrous flooding in 2012 when vast swathes of the Levels were left under water at a cost of nearly £10 million.
The Environment Agency has said that the flooding of the last 12 months would have been far less serious if the bottlenecks of the Rivers Parrett and Tone had been dredged. Currently the rivers are only operating at 60 per cent of their capacity because of silt levels.
Nick Stevens added: “We appreciate the personal attention of both Ministers who have had two meetings on the Somerset Levels this week alone. They have a good grasp of the situation and recognise the value of dredging and the logic of the case that has been made for Government funding.”
Press Release, April 22, 2013; Image: thisissomerset