Flood Control: Somerset Levels

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4 August 2022.

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Photo of Lord Patten Lord Patten Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the preparedness of flood defences in the Somerset levels and marshes for winter 2022–23.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Somerset Levels and Moors remains prone to flooding, due to its low-lying nature and a rapidly changing climate. £80 million of public investment has been made in this landscape following the floods of 2013-14 to help it adapt. This significant investment has allowed improved physical infrastructure that allows pre-emptive action to be taken to delay the onset of flooding and to evacuate water more effectively from this low-lying area. This enables communities to be more resilient and to recover more rapidly from flooding.

The Environment Agency is implementing nature-based solutions at a landscape scale and working with individual landowners to support this, enhance biodiversity and increase the capacity of the landscape to absorb water and slow flooding whilst creating carbon storage.

Construction work will start next year on the £100 million Bridgwater Barrier, one of the largest flood defence schemes in the country, which was identified as an action in the 20-year Flood Action Plan for Somerset. This will reduce tidal flood risk to over 13,000 residential homes and businesses and ensure that high tide levels do not adversely impact on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

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