A public consultation about proposals to dredge the River Parrett between Stathe and Burrowbridge began on 1 May and continues until Saturday, 1 June.
The scheme is being led for Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) by the Parrett Internal Drainage Board (IDB), working closely with the Environment Agency and Natural England. The SRA is using Growth Deal funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.
The aim of the proposed works is to help the SRA reduce flood risks across a large part of the Somerset Levels and Moors that were badly affected in winter 2013-14 and summer 2012.
This dredge is particularly important because it would supplement other dredges of the Parrett and Tone since 2014. It would also tie in with other projects, such as enhancing the River Sowy (also known as the Parrett Flood Relief Channel) and King’s Sedgemoor Drain.
If it’s approved, set-up works could start on-site in August, with dredging expected to begin in September. Further necessary works such as monitoring and ecological improvements would continue into 2020. (The photo at the top of this page shows part of the River Parrett – not far from Stathe Road – that’s being considered in these proposed works.)
David Mitchell, SRA Senior Manager, said: “Around 16 months’ hard work has gone into drawing up these plans for dredging between Stathe and Burrowbridge. We believe that the scheme we’re now proposing is a good scheme that will help us to protect people and properties, and enhance the environment.
“This will be the biggest new dredge that we’ve done on the Parrett since the summer of 2016. To find out more please go to one of the consultation sessions we’re running this May, or look at the information that’s available online, and let us know your views.”
Two drop-in consultation events were held, to give people chance to look at display boards and other materials, ask questions and fill in feedback forms. One was in Burrowbridge on 14 May, one in Langport on 15 May.
If you missed these events, do not worry. Copies of materials prepared for these drop-in sessions are available online, and feedback forms can also be downloaded, here as PDFs and as a Word document:
The PDF feedback form can be printed out, filled in by hand and posted back. If you’d prefer to type straight into a document, you are recommended to use the Word version of the feedback form below:
POST completed feedback forms to Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium, 33-34 Market Street, Highbridge, Somerset, TA9 3BW.
EMAIL to firstname.lastname@example.org
ONLINE FEEDBACK SYSTEM: Alternatively, feedback can be given online at https://arcg.is/1PjGbT
The online system requires you to write your feedback in one continuous line. You cannot write in paragraphs (although you could copy and paste text that you have written elsewhere). Ignore the system’s opening statement about not being a field worker or the survey owner.
Consultation process summary
The process of statutory consultation required for improvement works such as dredging is set out in the Environmental Impact Assessment (Land Drainage Improvement Works) Regulations 1999 (as amended). This summer will see an Environmental Statement produced with an opportunity for formal consultation on the document and final scheme. Following this formal consultation period, a view will be taken with regard to the commencement of works.
The proposed dredging of the watercourse between Stathe and Burrowbridge is considered to be an instance of ‘improvement works’ as defined under Regulation 2 (1) of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Land Drainage Improvement Works) Regulations. These improvement works are in their turn considered to be a development activity that falls within the Environment Agency’s permitted development rights under Class D of Part 13 (water and sewerage) of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.
The proposed works would be carried out for Somerset Rivers Authority by the Parrett Internal Drainage Board (IDB) under powers delegated by the Environment Agency through a Public Sector Cooperation Agreement (PSCA). Although the works are considered to be permitted development, the Parrett IDB also has to satisfy the formal process of examining the project in detail in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment (Land Drainage Improvement Works) Regulations 1999 (as amended).
Hence this summer’s consultation process.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an impartial and systematic process that ensures that the environmental effects of a proposed development are fully considered and taken into account before it proceeds. It draws upon a detailed understanding of current environmental effects (known as the baseline), information gathered during consultation, and from a detailed understanding of potential effects from the development itself. The findings of an EIA are reported in a document called an Environmental Statement (ES) which has to meet certain legal standards, broadly incorporating main headings, topics to be considered, organisations that need to be consulted, stages of the project, timescales, and types of effects and mitigation that need to be taken into account.
The final design of the project, and the conclusions of the ES, will also be informed by a separate Water Framework Directive Compliance Assessment, an Appropriate Assessment (Stage 2 Habitats Regulations Assessment) as required by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, and governed by the requirements of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.