WOULD-BE Burnham MP James Heappey welcomed the new Environment Secretary Liz Truss to Somerset on Sunday.

Mr Heappey, prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives, took the Secretary of State for a tour of the Cheddar Valley to show her the lower River Axe before hosting a dinner at the New Inn at Cross.

He briefed Ms Truss on the wider flooding issues in the county and local farmers' concerns over bovine tuberculosis and falling milk prices.

He said: “Last winter's floods were not just damaging for our agricultural industry but for tourism too. I emphasised to Liz that tackling flooding really does need to be a priority and that the solution is to harness the real expertise that exist within the Internal Drainage Boards and the farming community.”

Mr Heappey also raised with the minister the need to help farmers improve the management of agricultural pollutants that are partly responsible for the water quality issues off Burnham.

“I asked Liz to prioritise grant applications for farmyard upgrades from farms that were deemed by the Environment Agency to be in the parts of the catchment area that most affected bathing water quality in the town,” he said.