Somerset MP asks for more on flood protection
Government figures showing more than £21 million had been spent in Somerset on flood protection. Ian Liddell Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and Somerset west believes this is encouraging. Of course most of this has been paid for by Somerset residents via the precept or council tax.
As to the amount spent…. “this is nothing really remarkable,” he says. “There is no option but to continue spending regularly unless we want large stretches of the county to disappear under water.” The Levels at the heart of the county are so low-lying that there will be a need to release ever more funding to keep homes and businesses safe.
No-one on the Levels will forget the flooding that ravaged the countryside from 2012 to 2014. Prolonged and widespread floods in the aftermath of a decision by the Environment Agency to stop dredging. Since then, with the creation of the Somerset Rivers Agency, dredging has been reinstated. But that costs and there needs to be more money set aside, according to the MP to keep the county dry.
The construction of a £100 million tidal barrier across the river Parrett north of Bridgwater will help. Once completed, probably in 2026, it will hold back high tides to prevent river defences upstream being overtopped. But Mr Liddell Grainger does not believe that on its own it will be enough.
“Sea level rise is already happening and the really worrying aspect is that experts suggest it could be accelerating,” he explains. “It only takes a glance at a map of Somerset to see how much of it lies at or about sea level. And when you consider that the effects of a high tide in the Bristol Channel can be experienced more than 20 miles inland it
gives some indication of the area’s vulnerability. We have absolutely to keep one step ahead of the game and keep
spending on flood prevention and protection a regular basis if we want central Somerset to remain habitable in the future.”
For that reason he says Somerset must be a long-term priority area for flood prevention work. And that means a commitment from government to provide funds.