Flood Control: Somerset

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 23 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 assessment her Department has made of the resilience of flood protection measures in (a) Somerset, (b) East Somerset and (c) the River Cam catchment area during the winter of 2022–23.

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

Much of Somerset is below sea level and many of its rivers are raised above the ground, so it will always be at risk of coastal and fluvial flooding. In January 2023, the Environment Agency put in place the largest temporary pumping operation in its history on the Somerset Levels and Moors. In combination with the innovative way water was managed through the system, this meant that on this occasion, widespread flooding of property was avoided.

During the Spring, East Somerset has experienced some of the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the area. This has led to roads becoming unpassable, and in the case of the River Cam, around 100 houses flooding. In all cases, the flood protection measures performed as designed, but were overwhelmed by the volume and intensity of rainfall.

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