Flood Control: Somerset

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 19 May 2023.

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Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that Somerset is more resilient to future flood risk.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Somerset has seen significant investment in recent years and has benefitted from the formation of the Somerset Rivers Authority partnership. Over £80 million of investment since 2014 in flood risk interventions helps the Environment Agency better manage flooding. It allows the Environment Agency to take pre-emptive action to delay the onset of flooding, to evacuate the waters more effectively. Together this enables communities to be more resilient and to recover more rapidly from flooding. The below investment was delivered in 2014/15:

  • £6m on dredging, financed by DEFRA, delivered by the Environment Agency
  • £20m on raising roads and drainage improvements financed by Department of Transport delivered by Somerset County Council
  • £20m on repairing flood damage to assets from Defra Flood defence grant-in-aid
  • £13m on improvements to the Sowy and Kings Sedgemoor Drain from Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
  • £3.5m on Pumping station extra capacity and improvements at Aller and Westonzoyland
  • £500k improvements to the Parrett and Tone hydraulic model.

The Environment Agency are continuing to invest in Somerset, this includes maintaining existing defences and also helping communities to adapt and become more resilient in the face of a changing climate. Ongoing investment includes:

  • Bridgwater Tidal Barrier scheme – investment of over £128m – Operational barrier by 2026.
  • Dunball Sluice refurbishment – total investment of around £3.6m. Delivery by 2024
  • Pumping Station upgrades – Project to invest around £5.5m. Complete by 2025
  • Reservoir improvement investment (public safety) – Investment Program of £19m – Delivery complete by 2027
  • Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements – Council have agreed £6m funding in 3 interventions:

1. River Tone left bank defence improvements, Frieze Hill to Town Bridge

2. Raising of Firepool lockgate and defences between the River Tone and the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal (TTC10)

3. Longrun Meadows - optimising flood water storage.

Communities in Ilminster, Chard and Minehead are also benefitting from recently approved investment to help reduce flood risk. The Environment Agency and Somerset Council have secured funding from the Frequently Flooded Allowance fund to carry out investigative studies on what future flood risk interventions are required.

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