The Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan was formally unveiled today (6 March, 2014), bringing hope to flood-hit communities.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson announced the Plan in the House of Commons – and it was immediately backed up with a promise of £10m from the Department for Transport and £500k from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The 20 Year Flood Action Plan sets out targets and aims to prevent the same level of flooding hitting Somerset’s levels and moors that has been suffered over recent months.
“We have worked together to find solutions in the short, medium and long term,” said Somerset County Council Leader John Osman. “The Plan contains some firm ideas for what we can do now, but also some broad ambitions such as a sluice or barrage for the River Parrett and long-term projects to prevent water entering the area in the first place.
“We listened to local people in drawing up the plan and we will spend a lot of time now talking and listening to them again to ensure the plan is fit for purpose and supported by local people.
“I am particularly pleased that the Department for Transport have made such a significant contribution. We are very grateful.”
Among the first to see the Plan was the Flooding on the Levels Action Group (FLAG). Chair Heather Venn said the group was “cautiously optimistic”.
She went on: “We need to keep a careful eye on this, and it is absolutely crucial that the funding is there, but it is a very positive first step and we welcome much that is in it.”
The Plan contains a number of commitments such as dredging around five miles of the River Parrett, and repairing damaged riverbanks.
It also proposes schemes requiring significant further funding.
The £10.5m government investment comes on top of the £10m previously announced by the Prime Minister. A further £1.5m has already been raised towards dredging and other flood prevention measures by Somerset authorities and partners.