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New Beer Wall work next step for major Sowy River scheme

The next stage of major work at Beer Wall on the A372, which will enhance the capacity of the River Sowy system, is set to begin shortly as machinery was mobilised and preparations started on site this week (2 September, 2015).

The work, being undertaken for Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) by the Environment Agency, will align the rivers Sowy and Langacre to new culverts recently installed by Somerset County Council.

It is Phase 3 of a series of schemes to protect the A372 from large-scale floods and enable more water to be diverted down the River Sowy system with significant long-term benefits for many of the communities affected in the winter 2013/14 floods.

Work starting now will not involve any road closures, and will be staged either side of winter so that construction is not delayed and flood risk best managed. Ongoing work after this is complete will have key benefits for the future.

“The work which will reduce flooding will benefit residents, infrastructure and land in the Parrett and Tone Moors and follows on from the work undertaken in Phase 1 and 2 which protected the A372 from flooding ,” said John Osman, chairman of the SRA and also leader of Somerset County Council. 

“Improvements for the future will allow more water to pass from the River Parrett into the Sowy, which in turn will help reduce flood flows on the River Parrett and allow the River Tone to discharge more readily.

“Being able to use the Sowy River system more flexibly will also mean upstream and downstream pumping stations can be operated earlier, which will benefit many of the communities affected in the winter 2013/14 floods.”
The First Stage of works starting now, will ensure water can pass through the newly installed road culverts in the most efficient way if a flood occurred this coming winter. It will also include installing concrete piled walls, supporting piles and a base slab framework for two new, tilting weirs to control water levels.

Stage Two will begin in April 2016, if ground conditions allow, and finish in summer 2016. It will include installation of the tilting weirs; completion of new channel excavations; formation of a formal bank between the River Sowy spur channel and the re-aligned Langacre Rhyne. 

Phase 3 of the Beer Wall project is funded as part of £8m over three years through the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal money secured by the SRA. Phase 1 and 2 were funded by the DfT.

More work to enhance the wider River Sowy/ Kind Sedgemoor Drain (KSD) system capacity will take place over the next three years, after Phase 3 is complete.

A public meeting will be held this winter to let people know more about the wider River Sowy / KSD scheme and future operations.

For more information please contact:
Sue Mitchinson
Communications Officer – Somerset Rivers Authority
Email: smitchinson@somerset.gov.uk
Tel: 01823 357676

Notes to editors:

There are 11 partner organisations in the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) and their existing responsibilities and accountabilities all continue. 

Through the SRA, their work is being co-ordinated to ensure that Somerset’s flood risk management benefits from their collective experience and knowledge.

They are:

Environment Agency
Mendip District Council
Natural England
Sedgemoor District Council
Somerset County Council
South Somerset District Council
Taunton Deane Borough Council
The Axe/Brue Internal Drainage Boards
The Parrett Internal Drainage Board
Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee
West Somerset Council


If you would like to get in touch please contact us at sra@somerset.gov.uk or tel: 01823 355111
The Flood Action Plan is now overseen by the Somerset Rivers Authority and can be contacted on the above.