Have your say on new SRA strategy to reduce flooding

A draft strategy for reducing the risks and impacts of flooding across Somerset has been published by Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA).

Now we want you to give us your views on the strategy and share any concerns that you may have about flooding in Somerset.

A special new website has been set up – https://srastrategy.co.uk – where you can answer a short series of questions, make comments, and pinpoint problematic places on a map.

Your contributions will help to make communities and places across Somerset safer, stronger, better.

The deadline for taking part at https://srastrategy.co.uk is 31 December 2023. 

As a taster, published below is the Executive Summary from the full text of the Draft SRA Strategy and Flood Action Plan 2024-34.

You can download a PDF of the Draft SRA Strategy and Flood Action Plan 2024-34, but to give us your views and share your flooding concerns, please visit https://srastrategy.co.uk

Executive Summary from Draft SRA Strategy and Flood Action Plan 2024-34

Somerset Rivers Authority’s core purpose as a partnership is to reduce the risks and impacts of flooding across Somerset. That is what we do.

Our partners are Somerset Council, the Parrett and Axe Brue Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs), the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Wessex Regional Flood & Coastal Committee and Wessex Water.

The idea for Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) arose during the winter floods of 2013-14, the wettest winter for 250 years. Around 150km2 of the Somerset Levels were submerged for weeks: 165 homes were flooded, 7,000 businesses affected, 81 roads closed. The cost to Somerset was up to £147.5 million.

During this flood, a range of organisations from across Somerset pulled together a 20 Year Flood Action Plan. One of this Plan’s main recommendations was that a partnership should be set up to improve local water management. Somerset Rivers Authority was duly launched in January 2015.

Our partners work together as the SRA to achieve more than it would be possible for them to achieve individually. SRA membership enables our partners to go above and beyond what they usually do, to carry out additional schemes and activities, to do extra work on local priorities.

So that more can be done, annual funding is raised through council tax solely for the use of the SRA. We get around £3million a year through council tax. The IDBs give another £20,000.

We’ve drafted this new Strategy to shape how we spend this money across Somerset. It includes lessons learned from the SRA’s own history, from Somerset flooding and the intensifying impacts of climate change. We have studied partners‘ own plans and strategies, held extensive talks with partners, and listened to the desires and frustrations expressed by residents, businesses and stakeholders across Somerset.

Accordingly, themes flowing through the SRA’s Strategy are:

  • Working with communities
  • Strengthening operations, boosting maintenance
  • Building resilience, encouraging adaptation
  • Protecting the economy from flooding
  • Conserving and enhancing the special environments of Somerset

What gives SRA works their own distinctive fingerprint is the combination of these themes.

SRA objectives and catchment-based approach

Our core purpose, principles and themes are encapsulated in the following objectives. Between 2024 and 2034, we will develop and fund selected schemes and activities that advance these objectives:

  1. Reduce the risks and impacts of flooding across Somerset.
  2. Maintain access and connections during times of flood for communities and businesses across Somerset.
  3. Increase the resilience of people, places and the environment to flooding, while adapting to climate change.
  4. Protect Somerset’s economy from the impacts of flooding, promote business confidence and encourage new opportunities.
  5. While doing the above, conserve and enhance Somerset’s special environments (natural, built, social, cultural) for all who live and work in Somerset and visit.

The SRA will take a catchment-based approach towards fulfilling these objectives. A catchment is an area of land from which water – especially rainwater – drains and flows down into streams, rivers, lakes and often the sea.

We will analyse catchments to understand problems with excessive amounts of flood water and we will select issues about which the SRA can do most in line with our objectives.

Approaches will be taken which balance investment between upper, mid and lower catchment areas, and combine different measures.

We will fund proposals which reduce the risks and impacts of flooding, and benefit Somerset people and places in as many ways as possible.

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