Geography pupils from Huish Episcopi Academy have been given a tour of a major Somerset Levels flood protection scheme.
Around 30 sixth-formers visited the Somerset County Council-led works that recently started on the A372 at Beer Wall near Othery. The council’s contractor Skanska gave the teenagers – and their teacher – a detailed insight into the scheme, the engineering behind it and what it aims to achieve.
The works at Beer Wall – along with the raising of a road into Muchelney – are being carried out as part of Somerset’s 20 Year Flood Action Plan.
Jim Moncur, Head of Geography at Huish Episcopi Academy, said: “It was fantastic to be able to see some of the theory that we learn around the issue of flood management in the classroom being put into practice. We look forward to working with the organisations involved again in the future.
“This is a very important issue for our community and it is great that our students get an insight into the work being carried out to reduce the impact of future floods.”
Cllr John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council and Chairman of the Flood Action Plan’s Leaders Implementation Group, said: “The students and school children in this area would have seen at first hand the impact of the winter flooding. I hope the visit has given some academic insight into the works and also some reassurance that work is being done to address the issues.
“It has taken a lot of work and close co-operation between organisations to get these projects to this stage so quickly. No one can stop flooding, but schemes like this and other actions within the Flood Action Plan can, together, reduce its likelihood and impact.”
Four new culverts will be installed at Beer Wall to the east of Langacre Rhyne, which runs alongside the Sowy under the A372. Last winter the road was flooded at this spot for several weeks and then closed to accommodate emergency pumping. As well as protecting the road, this new scheme will allow the Environment Agency to undertake further work to increase the capacity of the River Sowy.
This first phase will see a trench cut into the A372 where the culverts will be installed in the spring. A temporary bridge will span the trench, so the road remains open for the winter.
Simon White, Business Director, Skanska, said: “It was great to be able to host these local students on our site to further their learning. Flood water management is a key part of their studies and hopefully we have helped bring their learning to life by showing them some real life challenges and projects on their own doorstep. They have seen how civil engineers can improve the management of floodwater in a sustainable way.”