SRA End of Year Report 2017-18: Bridgwater Tidal Barrier

A Bridgwater Tidal Barrier will reduce tidal flood risk to assets worth about £2.5 billion – including nearly 13,000 homes and businesses – for more than 100 years. The scheme is being developed by the Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council, working with consultants from Jacobs. Somerset Rivers Authority is using Growth Deal money from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership to support the scheme’s initial stages. Funding for matters such as the Barrier’s construction will come from other sources. The Barrier’s estimated cost, over its whole life, is £100 million. Nationally, the scheme is to be classified as a Major Project, with the Treasury and Defra getting more closely involved.

The preferred location for a Bridgwater Tidal Barrier is between Express Park business park and Chilton Trinity village. The gate will be a double vertical lift gate, of proven reliability in silty places like the River Parrett. The aim is for a Barrier to be working in 2024.

Flood defences downstream of the Barrier will also be improved. Plans include maintaining existing frontline defences and building a new secondary line of defences to better protect communities and infrastructure during extreme weather.

Being achieved: Numerous actions have been taken to progress the scheme, including:

  • consulting people throughout the year, with public drop-in sessions in Bridgwater,
  • Chilton Trinity and Combwich and events for Express Park businesses, NFU members and landowners
  • developing outline design for the Barrier, its operational site and downstream defences
  • starting work on preparing the Transport and Works Act order for the Barrier and the planning application for the downstream defence improvements
  • completing baseline environmental surveys, issuing Preliminary Environmental Information Report to stakeholders
  • working with stakeholders to identify wider opportunities and enhancements that could be delivered alongside the Barrier scheme, subject to funding and approvals
  • visiting the Hull Tidal Barrier to learn lessons from its operation and recent refurbishment
  • appointing a Parliamentary Agent (Bircham Dyson Bell) with experience of delivering Boston and Ipswich Tidal Barriers
  • meeting the Boston Tidal Barrier project team to learn lessons from their recent public inquiry
  • consulting with Sedgemoor District Council as Harbour Authority on navigation clearances for the gates and impacts on current harbour legislation
  • liaising with the Environment Agency’s Large Projects Review Group, particularly over the economic assessments

Next steps include further site investigations, including boreholes within the river channel at the Barrier site, developing an outline design for the Barrier and downstream defences, consulting on proposals in the autumn, then submitting the Transport and Works Act Order and planning application in summer 2019.

Consultation with Chilton Trinity Parish Council and landowners will continue to address any concerns raised.

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