SRA Annual Report 2018-19: Strategic Approach to Mitigation (W1)

Mitigation means works that must be done – by law – to offset any unavoidably negative effects of projects. In Somerset’s case, there is an extra factor. One of the objectives of Somerset’s 20 Year Flood Action Plan is to “make the most” of the county’s special characteristics: its biodiversity, its environment, its cultural heritage. There are many features of international importance. So it is doubly vital to seek the best possible ways of reducing flood risks and protecting the environment. And it is best, wherever possible, to streamline ways of doing this.

Natural England has therefore been assessing detailed design and modelling data showing the impacts of the latest proposals for dredging and Sowy-KSD improvements. The project team is aiming to develop an approach which will provide certainty about the implementation of whatever water level management measures will be required as mitigation for flood risk reduction schemes that could harm legally-protected wetlands. Mitigation is likely to require changes to Water Level Management protocols and agreement from partners and landowners to deliver appropriate ‘shallow splash’ conditions in the winter months. (‘Shallow splash’ describes wet grassland that attracts and supports wild creatures such as waders).

Key partners and stakeholders are Natural England, the Environment Agency, Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium, National Farmers Union, Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Somerset Wildlife Trust.

A detailed report setting out mitigation options and approximate costs is being developed with partners. It will be presented at a future SRA board meeting.

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