Work has begun this week (August 20) on a flood protection scheme for the village of Thorney on the Somerset Levels, one of the communities badly hit by winter floods.
It is part of the 20 Year Flood Action Plan (FAP) for Somerset, where county and district councils, the Environment Agency, the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium and other partner and community organisations are working together on a number of schemes to help protect the area, including Thorney Ring Bank.
Costs of £180,000 have been agreed between Somerset County Council, the Parrett Internal Drainage Board, South Somerset District Council, with financial contributions also from Kingsbury Episcopi Parish Council and the local community.
Local residents have been in discussions with the Parrett Drainage Board about Thorney Ring Bank since the height of last winter’s flooding, and the work will be sited on private land.
Work to improve an existing second ring bank at Thorney, known as Thorney West Ring Bank (near the pottery), is also set to begin in late summer, on behalf of the Environment Agency.
The Ring Banks are part of plans in the area around the villages of Thorney and Muchelney to provide greater protection from flooding, including a raised road to secure access to Muchelney in times of flood.
The Parrett Drainage Board has now designed the scheme and appointed contractors Bernard G Perry Ltd to carry out the Thorney Ring Bank work, which will improve flood protection for the village’s 10 houses and the public highway.
Councillor John Osman, Chairman of the Flood Action Plan Leaders Implementation Group and Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “I know everyone is keen to see progress underway before the winter and I am delighted work is now starting on site at Thorney.
“The Flood Action Plan has both short and long term actions as not all the challenges can be solved at once, and milestones such as this are extremely encouraging.”
Local resident and businessman Richard England, who is also a member of the Parrett Drainage Board, said: “I’m absolutely delighted work is starting. Last winter we were over our knees in water – now people in the small hamlet of Thorney will be able to sleep easier in their beds. This gives them real hope.”
Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium and Parrett Drainage Board Chairman Peter Maltby said: “We were very pleased that all the partners involved from the Flood Action Plan have worked together effectively to help the Board to prepare this scheme so quickly.”
Further details about Thorney Ring Bank construction
•Approximately 500 lorryloads of soil and materials, at a rate of 30 – 40 truckloads a day over a few weeks will be brought in, and this haulage work is planned to start in week three of the project.
•The Ring Bank height will be 1.5 metres, and the width will cover up to 20 metres at the base and approximately 3 metres at the top.
•The cost of the project is £181,000 and it is jointly funded by several partners of the Flood Action Plan. Somerset County Council is funding £145,000; the Parrett Internal Drainage Board is funding £20,000 in staff time and work; South Somerset District Council is funding £15,000 and the local parish council of Kingsbury Episcopi is contributing £1,000.
•Local residents have been involved throughout. The idea for this ring bank was originally mooted by a local resident and IDB member at the height of the floods, and the IDB has worked with him and other residents, including the owners whose land it will be constructed on.