Outlined below are the schemes currently in the SRA’s Enhanced Programme for SRA major projects in 2016/17. Each description is followed by a summary of the planned objectives, outcomes and benefits; in short, why the work is being done.
It’s a vital principle of SRA work that it delivers an extra level for flood protection for Somerset. A final note on each scheme shows whether it represents additional work or additional funding.
Click to download a PDF of the SRA 2016/17 Enhanced Programme for capital projects, which shows these major projects on its second page.
These SRA major projects are funded by Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSWLEP) Growth Deal money. SRA major projects tend to be longer-term works, stretching out towards 2018 or 2019.
The list below foregrounds work that is due to be done in 2016/17. Projects such as the development of the dredging strategy, the River Sowy / King’s Sedgemoor Drain enhancements, the Bridgwater Barrier and natural flood management are expected to have a longer timescale, but their course will be affected by important issues such as the views and decisions of the SRA Board, public consultation, and the need to secure further external funding. The Bridgwater Barrier, for example, is expected to cost at least £30m; the SRA is only funding preparatory work. The Hills to Levels partnership has funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery until 2017.
Dredge a 750m stretch of the River Parrett downstream from Northmoor Pumping Station towards the M5 (pictured below: excavator on floating platform with barge). Develop a dredging strategy, including conducting initial trials.
Why: Increased conveyance through the River Parrett. The dredging strategy will identify what needs to be dredged, with what frequency and how to deliver it in the most cost-effective way.
River Sowy / King’s Sedgemoor Drain enhancements
Enhancements comprising reconnecting the watercourses under the new culverts at Beer Wall, works at Dunball to remove constrictions, improving Chedzoy flap.
Somerset County Council completed Beer Wall flood works in July 2015. As well as raising and repairing the road at Beer Wall, four culverts, measuring two metres tall by three metres wide, were installed under the A372 to allow water to pass under the road at times of severe flooding, as well as paving the way for Environment Agency works.
Now in 2016-17, the Environment Agency, acting for the SRA, is going to increase the capacity of the Sowy/KSD by aligning the Sowy and Langacre to the four new culverts. This phase, due to finish in summer 2016, also includes installing concrete piled walls, supporting piles and a base slab framework for two new tilting weirs to control water levels. The tilting weirs will enable the River Sowy system to be used more flexibly, and will also mean that upstream and downstream pumping stations can be operated earlier. This will benefit many places affected by the floods of 2013/14 such as Langport, Muchelney, Thorney, Moorland and Fordgate.
Other Sowy/KSD system improvements include the removal of obstructive masonry from beneath Dunball Old Bridge as part of measures to improve the capacity and flow of water through the final stretch of the KSD; as part of this work the upstream channel is being widened to help smooth flow under the bridges and maximise the benefit of removing the “lump of concrete”.
Work has also begun on improvements to Chedzoy Flap, which controls the meeting of the Penzoy river system (including Chedzoy New Cut) and the KSD. The new control structure will prevent water entering the Penzoy system from the KSD during normal operation – therefore better protecting farmland in the Chedzoy and Andersea areas.
Why: The objective of this complex scheme is to increase the amount of water that can be evacuated through the Sowy/KSD system, thereby relieving the pressure on the River Parrett and River Tone and reducing the risk of their overtopping.
Dredge a 4km stretch of the River Brue between North Drain Pumping Station and Westhay.
Why: To achieve better conveyance of water.
Preparatory work on the Bridgwater Barrier. Consultants are looking at a range of possible locations, gate arrangements and operating regimes for a barrier. An 18-month study (early 2016 – mid-2017) is examining the management of water levels, silt and navigation and assessing environmental benefits and impacts. The public is being consulted and options narrowed down. This scheme is being led by Sedgemoor District Council and the Environment Agency. Somerset Rivers Authority funding is helping project teams to get to the point where they can submit a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) for this major scheme. A TWAO is a lengthy legal process required to achieve the Secretary of State’s approval for a barrier and the necessary powers for constructing it. See http://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/bridgwaterbarrier
Why: Previous studies and research have identified a Bridgwater Barrier as the best long-term solution for the protection of approximately 10,000 properties and over 600 businesses for the next 100 years or more. SRA funding will enable the acceleration of this project, a key element of Somerset’s 20-Year Flood Action Plan, overseen and co-ordinated by the SRA .
Hills to Levels - natural flood management in Somerset to ‘Slow the Flow’
Using Growth Deal money from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, the SRA is joining forces with the Hills to Levels project, led by the Royal Bath & West Society and funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery, to ‘slow the flow’ through a capital grants scheme for natural flood management activities in Somerset. This is an integrated approach to catchment management: its core messages are ‘joining up the catchment’ and ‘every field, every farm, every stream has a part to play’. The project team has already identified over 200 natural flood management features to install in the landscape, including leaky ponds, leaky woody dams, filter fences, filter dams, tree planting, new hedge banks, flow spreaders, soil bunds and check dams.
The SRA’s land management work stream leader, Ben Thorne – a senior farm conservation adviser with FWAG SW – and his team are working with farmers on the design and construction of run-off attenuation features – and on getting consent for them. Many of the locations are based on scientific research and modelling to identify flow pathways, soil opportunities and key flooding hotspots.
Why: To reduce local flooding, to 'Slow the Flow', holding the water for as long as possible in the upper and middle catchments to protect communities and businesses lower down.