SRA Annual Report 2018-19: Bridgwater Tidal Barrier (W1)

Nothing like this barrier has been attempted in Somerset before: it is a big, complicated, challenging project. It will reduce tidal flood risks to 11,300 homes and 1,500 businesses. Its current estimated cost is £100 million but its benefits are valued at £1,331 million.

Work on the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier is being led by the Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council. Somerset Rivers Authority is helping with the funding of the early stages of this project, using Growth Deal money from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership. All partners have been learning as many lessons as possible from other towns with new barrier developments, like Ipswich and Boston. Forecasts of Flood Defence Grant in Aid and external funding show the scheme is affordable.

Bridgwater Tidal Barrier will be located between Express Park and Chilton Trinity village. It will have two vertical lift gates and is expected to be operational in 2024, subject to funding and statutory approvals. The scheme includes improvements to existing downstream primary flood defences along the River Parrett together with new secondary defences in the flood plain.

The barrier and downstream defences are being designed to protect Bridgwater and nearby communities for the next 100 years, against tides that have a 0.5% chance of occurring in any year.

Activities during 2018-19

  • Sedgemoor District Council bought Heron Court at Express Park, next to the intended site of the barrier, to allow for greater flexibility in the layout of the site, and to make construction easier.
  • Outline design completed for the barrier and downstream defences.
  • Ground investigations completed into the suitability of nearby ‘borrow pit’ locations to provide material for the downstream defences.
  • Key landowners consulted over principles for permanent and temporary land access and over the extraction of local ‘borrow pit’ material for the building of downstream defences.
  • Outline design for the barrier and downstream defences presented to key stakeholders and the public in December 2018, and businesses in February 2019.
  • Public drop-in held at Chilton Trinity in February 2019 to present the scheme proposals and to seek further community views and feedback.
  • Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council submitted a bid for funding to the Housing Infrastructure Funding in March 2019.
  • Secured Technical Assurance of the Outline Business Case for the Barrier and downstream defences from the Environment Agency’s Large Project Review Group. This allows for the preparation and submission of the Transport Works Act Order (TWAO) needed for the scheme to be delivered. The TWAO is being prepared for submission to the Secretary of State at Defra at the end of 2019.


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