Extra work to reduce the risk of flooding near Frome has been funded by Somerset Rivers Authority.
Improvements include the removal of dead and fallen trees that were obstructing the flow of the Mells River through Orchardleigh, and clearing of the old Mill Race in Spring Gardens. The aim is to create more flood capacity.
Sarah Diacono, Senior Manager with Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA), said: “This is a low-lying area which has had a long history of problems with flooding. The Mells joins the River Frome and the channels are complex. Research has shown that extra maintenance work will make a difference, and benefit householders, businesses, tourism and wildlife.”
The scheme was designed and delivered for the SRA by the Environment Agency, using five Somerset men from Lawton Forestry sub-contracting for Ground Control. (Pictured above: contractor Mike Richards chainsaws a fallen willow).
Work has been done on the Mells near Brookover Farm Bed & Breakfast and Equestrian Centre, whose owner Heather White said: “We do try and maintain our bit of river the best we can. I’ve got a small tractor and we can pull out small things, but when you haven’t got the manpower and the machinery to do the heavy stuff, it’s very difficult.
“So I’m pleased to see this extra work being done by the SRA because it allows the rivers to flow, basically, and that’s good for houses further down and good for wildlife.”
Two of the tree trunks cut and winched up from the Mells will be left as jumps for horses at Brookover; four bat boxes have also been put up by the river.
Other recent SRA-funded work locally includes improvements to the River Frome at Rode Bridge, delivered by the Environment Agency, with Butcombe Brewery paying in partnership for further de-silting near The Mill at Rode pub. Several SRA-funded activities have also been carried out by Somerset County Council to reduce flood risks, such as extra CCTV surveying of drainage systems in Frome, de-silting under a bridge at Leigh upon Mendip, extra gully-emptying in Wanstrow and Nunney, extra drain jetting along quarry routes at Holwell Hill and road sweeping at Upton Noble and Cranmore.
Work coming up includes repairs to part of Frome’s Flood Defence Scheme, which protects 300 properties. Repairs will be made to the River Frome’s revetment – the fortified layer which protects earthen river banks from high-flow erosion, especially on the bends where this shield is hit the hardest. This work to help protect properties and roads will be delivered for the SRA by the Environment Agency.