Senior Somerset County Councillors will this month be asked to recommend proposals for a Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) as a vital part of plans to reduce the likelihood and impact of flooding in the County.
The move comes as all the organisations involved in the 20 Year Flood Action Plan continue to press the Government for interim funding that will be needed to get the SRA up and running.
The Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) is a key proposal in the 20 Year Flood Action Plan set up after the extreme floods last winter, at the Government’s request.
Now papers published in advance of a Somerset County Council Cabinet meeting are asking members to recommend to Full Council a proposal for the new SRA including the creation of a Shadow Authority. It will be the first of a round of meetings for local authority and other partners to seek endorsement from their own organisations.
The new Authority would raise funds locally to provide a greater level of protection than currently exists. The details of how funding would be raised is still under discussion, but final proposals are likely to include a county-wide charge.
The SRA’s work would focus on enhanced maintenance of river channels, important ordinary watercourses and river flood banks over the whole of Somerset, to reduce flood risk. This would include dredging and maintenance of dredged profiles.
Councillor John Williams, Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council confirms his full support for a Somerset Rivers Authority as being a sensible and pragmatic way forward. “This is to ensure we have the greatest protection possible to mitigate any such catastrophic flooding in future. Part of the 20 year Flood Action Plan was major dredging of the Rivers Tone and Parrett which I am pleased to say the Environment Agency have now successfully completed. This has increased the capacity of the rivers tremendously and it is paramount that future maintenance of the watercourses maintains this capacity in years to come. A secure funding stream agreed with Government is therefore essential to ensure that all the good work done so far is not undone and as a result, our communities would continue to suffer if similar events occurred again.”