SRA Annual Report 2019-20: Cheddar flood risks study
A study of flood risks in and around Cheddar has been produced for Somerset Rivers Authority by Somerset County Council and contractors JBA Consulting. A recent example of flooding problems came in November 2017 (see below), when the B3135 through Cheddar Gorge was closed for a week while rocks and debris were removed and the road was repaired.
The study will be used to help identify measures which could be taken by the SRA and its partners to safeguard properties, businesses and a very special part of Somerset. Landscape and environmental designations include Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Special Area of Conservation, and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
In November 2019, a community drop-in session was held in the Village Hall (pictured below). Around 50 members of the public provided useful insights into local flood risks and shared helpful details of their concerns about potential causes and impacts of flooding.
Information was also gathered through online questionnaires and meetings with other stakeholders including the Parish Council, caving groups and local businesses. All this helped to increase knowledge and understanding of the history and mechanisms of Cheddar flooding.
Data was collated from various sources including the Environment Agency, Bristol Water, Wessex Water, Sedgemoor District Council, Goughs Cave and local landowners and caving clubs. The project team carried out a detailed review of this data and compiled a chronology of historic flood events. They also combed through previous studies of local flood risks.
The team then identified significant overland flood pathways in Cheddar. They analysed these so as to better understand where water comes from, where it goes and the impact it has on local properties and infrastructure. Locations affected include Gough’s Cave, The Cliffs, Redcliffe Street, Draycott Estate, Cheddar Reservoir, Axbridge Moor and Hamfield, Barrows and Hillfield.
Possible mitigation and resilience measures are now being assessed. They include Natural Flood Management, Property Flood Resilience, CCTV Surveys (to provide greater understanding of the connectivity of culverts and sewer pipes within the village), gully maintenance and clearance, desilting of the River Yeo through the village, and better flood warning and insurance arrangements.
Another public event in Cheddar Village Hall will be held to discuss the study’s findings and to outline possible next steps. Questions and comments will be encouraged. It has not yet been possible to arrange a date for this event because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions.