The lorries have left, the grass has been seeded, and two ring bank flood protection schemes for the village of Thorney on the Somerset Levels are complete.
The schemes are now part of the work of the new Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) and will help a community badly hit by the devastating floods of winter 2013-14.
Improvements include a completely new 325m-long ring bank, delivered by the Parrett Internal Drainage Board, and construction work to raise the Environment Agency’s existing Thorney Pottery Ring Bank, which was led by the Environment Agency.
Cllr John Osman, SRA Chair and Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “Local residents were in discussions with the Parrett Internal Drainage Board and the Environment Agency since the height of the previous winter’s flooding, and we are very pleased Thorney Ring Bank, and now Thorney Pottery Ring Bank too, are both completed.
“The partnership working and co-ordination on these projects is an excellent example of the SRA’s role in providing a holistic, long-term approach to reducing the impact of potential future flooding in Somerset.”
Peter Maltby, Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium and Parrett Internal Drainage Board Chairman (pictured above, left, in pink shirt), said: “The Drainage Board is pleased to have built the two ring banks at Thorney. They will give the residents of the area protection from future flooding. The longer term aim must still be to get the main rivers back to full capacity.”
John Rowlands, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency (pictured above, second left, at back), said: “We are delighted that we have been able to improve the standard of protection to even more homes in Thorney.”
The cost of building the new 325m long Thorney Ring Bank was £217,000. Somerset County Council funded £181,000 alongside contributions of £20,000 from the Parrett Internal Drainage Board in staff time and work, £21,500 from South Somerset District Council and £1,000 from Kingsbury Episcopi Parish Council.
Construction to raise and improve the second Ring Bank at Thorney Pottery was funded by the Environment Agency, with road ramp construction as part of this work carried out by Somerset County Council.
Local people are happy with the ring banks. “Now that the job is finished, we feel we have been thrown a very substantial life-line and can sleep easily in our beds, even when rain is pouring down,” said Thorney resident Nick Frost.
“We hope never again to see water that high on Westmoor, but are confident that our homes, and the road through the village, will stay dry even if the extremes of the 2014 floods are repeated.”
The ring banks are part of plans in the area around the villages of Thorney and Muchelney to provide greater protection from flooding. The Environment Agency has completed a high level appraisal into the benefits and costs of other community ring banks across the Levels and Moors and shared this with the public. It is now working with the communities that wish to take forward the option of developing their own ring banks.