SRA Annual Report 2018-19: Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements Scheme (W1)
Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements Scheme (TSFAIS) covers the Tone, its catchment and numerous tributaries. TSFAIS is led by the Environment Agency and Somerset West and Taunton Council. Somerset Rivers Authority has part-funded the scheme’s development for the last four years, using Growth Deal money from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership early on.
Phase 1 of TSFAIS studies highlighted the need for a combination of two main options. Firstly, improved flood defence walls in the town.
Secondly, an area for storing up to 1.8million cubic metres of water at Bradford on Tone, to provide extra protective capacity for the next 100 years.
Taunton has flooded badly before and climate change threatens worse. In 1960, more than 360 homes, shops and business premises were flooded. In response, the River Tone through the town was re-modelled and defences were reinforced in the 1980s. Taunton did not flood in 2013-14 but it came very close to flooding in 2000 and 2012. If nothing is done to improve matters, climate change is predicted to put many properties at higher risk, because increased flows of flood water will overtop the town’s defences.
Activities during 2018-19
In August 2018, the SRA Board was told that work completed on Phase 2 of TSFAIS had included surveys, ground investigations, initial engagement with landowners, computer modelling, initial environmental surveys and concept designs. The estimated cost of the two main options is around £50million. A new flood storage area and dam would also require an on-going commitment to maintenance.
Taunton Deane Borough Council had put aside £6million of its own money for TSFAIS but all parties accepted that the total sum required was unlikely to be found soon.
A revised Project Delivery Plan has therefore been agreed. This Plan will focus on several smaller options for improvements identified during Phase 2. The aim is to give Taunton a useful increase in its capacity to manage flooding, pending the longer-term delivery of the two main TSFAIS options. The following smaller options are therefore being considered:
- Vivary Park, Sherford Stream Improvements
- Raising bridges on Mill Stream by Castle Street
- Mill Stream flow diversions by French Weir
- Optimisation of Long Run meadow storage, upstream of French Weir
- Conveyance improvements on Galmington Stream (particularly consideration of culverts) near Parkfield Drive
- Bathpool options:
- Closing Canal Route at Firepool
- Railway Culverts between Obridge and Bathpool
- Flood Relief Channel at Bathpool parallel to Hyde Lane area
- Over pumping at Old River Tone Outfall by Bathpool Bridge
- Old River Tone Flap Valve Bund by Bathpool Bridge
Work is also continuing on a wider Strategic Plan, to address long-term issues such as funding.
A very important part of all this work is to produce solutions for managing any impacts upon other areas, particularly places downstream of Taunton.