The Royal Bath & West Society has launched a fund to help reduce the risk of flooding on the Somerset Levels and Moors. The Society's Agricultural Policy group aim to raise £3-4 million to funding dredging on some of the key rivers on the Levels, namely the Rivers Parrett and Tone. The Society sees its role as bringing together the responsible parties, including landowners to ensure that this work is done.
The Levels flooded badly last year leaving farmers unable to plant crops or graze livestock for several months. The deposition of silt within Main Rivers on the Levels and Moors has been identified as contributing to the extent and duration of the floods, with some rivers so silted up in places they are only carrying 60% of the water they used to.
So far funding contributions from Somerset County Council, the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and the Environment Agency have pledged in the region of £1 million towards dredging. The whole life cost of works on the Parrett and Tone has recently been reduced by £1 million to £3.1 million thanks to Somerset Drainage Board Consortium commissioned a Dutch company to investigate the suitability of using novel pumped dredging techniques.
Separate from these dredging proposals the Environment Agency is undertaking some pinch point de-silting works on parts of the Parrett and Tone starting this Autumn with funds drawn from a recovery fund.
De-silting is a significant issue for members on the Somerset Levels and Moors. Whilst, pinch point de-silting provides some short term breathing space, only restoration of the rivers’ design capacity through more significant de-silting works can provide the basis from which to develop a future vision for the Levels and Moors.
To read a detailed update on the work the NFU has been doing on regarding flooding on the Somerset Levels and Moors, please click on 'related documents'.