Flood action plan: first details emerge

Details are emerging of the government-backed plan to help prevent and manage future flooding incidents on the Somerset Levels.

Farmers and locals are being asked for ideas and input into the proposals that aim to avoid a repeat of floods which have left 11,500ha under water.

DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson called for a 20-year “action plan” to be on his desk within six weeks after he visited Somerset’s flooded communities.

Urgent meetings have been held between local authorities, local agencies and DEFRA representatives to agree the broad areas that need be addressed.

Somerset County Council leader John Osman said there had been “significant progress” devising the plan in the week since Mr Paterson made his request on Monday 27 January.

Mr Osman said: “We will be building on the work and experience gained over many years and the task is to pull all this together in a form that has been requested.”

Areas covered include:

  • Dredging and rivers management
  • A potential sluice or barrage on the River Parrett
  • The management of the entire river catchment, from rain falling on hills through to drainage and water storage systems
  • Resilience of infrastructure including road, rail and sewage systems
  • Community and business adaptation and resilience
  • Funding the plan

Mr Osman said: “We are confident of meeting the minister’s deadline.

“I would also like to stress that a key part of the plan is to talk to the people who really know and understand the Levels and Moors – the farmers, the residents and the communities who live there.”

As well as Somerset County Council, local authorities drawing up the plan include South Somerset District Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council.

Other bodies involved include the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

See also: Royal visit sees £100,000 for flood-hit Somerset