New Climate Change Project Will Help Somerset Adapt To Floods And Drought

New climate change project will help Somerset adapt to floods and drought

Support from Somerset Rivers Authority has enabled Somerset to take part in a new project called Co-Adapt.

The aim of Co-Adapt is to get local people and organisations co-operating and adapting to the water-related effects of climate change.

The SRA’s main interest is in flood protection and alleviation, but Co-Adapt will also help to encourage greater resilience to drought on nearly 10 square miles of the Somerset Levels. New predictions from the Environment Agency suggest that England could run short of water within 25 years. For eight weeks from Thursday, 9 May the Environment Agency is also consulting nationally on a new Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy that aims to “help communities better understand their risk and give them more control about how to adapt and respond”.

In Somerset, Co-Adapt is part of the EU’s Interreg 2 programme.

Its main partners locally are FWAG SW, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset County Council, the National Trust and Devon County Council (as the accountable body for the Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership).

Great emphasis is placed on what the EU calls co-creation, which means people and organisations working together.

The SRA has contributed 40% match-funding towards the costs of the project in 2019-20, as part of the SRA’s Enhanced Programme of works for 2019-20. The SRA’s match-funding meant the project could go ahead. It will not be affected by Brexit.

Summary of Co-Adapt

Areas benefitting: Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset

Objectives, outcomes, benefits

Objective

In Somerset, Co-Adapt will invest in the development, testing and rolling out of approaches to the co-creation of nature-based solutions that improve people’s capacity to adapt to the water-related effects of climate change. Somerset will become more flood (and drought) resilient.

Outcomes

Somerset Levels: In 2014, 150km2 of the Somerset Levels and Moors flooded. The cost to the whole county was up to £147.5million.

A key aim of Co-Adapt is to explore sustainable approaches to flood protection and alleviation.

More Land Trusts and Moor Associations will be encouraged, following up on work funded by the SRA, eg on West Moor.

Co-Adapt investments will result in:

  • 2500 hectares on the Somerset Levels being better adapted for flooding and drought, with improved accessibility to five moors and three structures adapted to deliver more naturally functioning water management with less reliance on traditional engineering techniques.
  • An adapted water management regime on 1500 hectares to manage flooding using natural processes rather than pump drainage, saving €200,000+ in a major flood event. This will significantly reduce the current total costs of flood and drought management in the pilot area. Monitoring equipment will be placed on adapted water management structures to measure their effectiveness in delivering water management.
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