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First draft of Somerset flood action plan revealed
DREDGING rivers, land management and raising roads are some of the things which have been included in Somerset’s flood action plan.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson has asked for a “concrete plan” from “all the interested parties” to be submitted to him within six weeks to provide a long-term solution.
A meeting of Sedgemoor District Council on Monday examined a draft of the plan, which needs to be submitted around March 14.
Nick Plumley, strategy development and change manager for Sedgemoor District Council’s Nick Plumley told members: “A six-week time limit doesn’t seem like much, but a lot of work has already gone on over the last year-and-a-half to produce an action plan.”
The action plan, which will be chaired by DEFRA and co-ordinated by Somerset County Council, will include all local authorities, the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Boards, RSPB and more. It includes emphasis on dredging rivers and river management.
Mr Plumley added: “It’s important we don’t have a lot of strategic talk about long-term visions. We need to act now. This is a draft plan and a fast-moving piece of work.
“In terms of dredging, rather than a quick piece of work, we’re going to see planned maintenance thereafter. There’s a plan to improve and maintain the temporary pumping sites.
“There are a huge variety of other actions within the river management theme.
“We’re going to be looking at local areas where water run-off is an issue, but also how can we help developers, businesses etc improve land management.”
Other ideas included: ‘resilient infrastructure’ and looking at raising key roads up from the water level.
Another idea is for a simple website for people to access flooding updates; improving access to recovery support, and more.
Doug Bamsey, development and planning officer for Sedgemoor, said: “There was a Parrett catchment management plan, which is about ten years old, but fundamentally that faltered due to a lack of resources.
“We hope the Government's attention would suggest a change. We spend about £1.2million on drainage board levies in the form of precepts and dredging is estimated to cost £5.6million alone.”
The council said hopefully dredging could start in April and they want a response from Government to the flood plan around that time.
Leader of Sedgemoor District Council, Duncan McGinty, said: “The secretary of state said he wanted a 20-year plan and he wanted short, medium and long-term actions within that.
“We will be pushing for early action where possible but some will take longer than others to mature and be beneficial for the area.”