Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee visits Somerset

I am a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (EFRA) and on the 12th May 2016 the Committee visited the Somerset Levels and Moors. At the roundtable we heard from members of the Environmental Agency, the wildlife and trust and other organisations. The residents who suffered under the floods were also present and made their concerns known that the communication between the environmental agency and what happened to the water on their land was not often clear. 18% of Somerset was under water.


There has been some investment in the area with the development of the Northmoor Pumping Station, the King Sedgemoor Drain and Rive Sowy project. In Summer 2012 the flooding caused loss of produce but in 2013/14 saw the highest tides with waves as high as 42 feet and 8 inches of rainfall. In the area gravity cannot be used so pumps were needed to drain the area with 128 pumps used.


In the meantime, dredging work has been undertaken. 8km of river has been dredged and 130,000 metres. The silt from the river has also placed on as a sole improver on arable land. The committee heard about other natural flood defences including the woody dam where logs are placed in the river which would slow the river down. There was some concern amongst some residents that having lived in an area where they have never been flooded, the levels rose making them concerned that water was allowed to build up and then move to a different area. With the drainage boards, there is some element of resident inclusion in any decisions that have been made locally on flood management. The schemes will vary across the country and what works in Somerset Levels and Moors, may not be the best solution in other areas where flooding occurred during winter 2013/2014. In my view there has to be a balance between disrupting the sites of special scientific interest and special protection areas and what needs to be done to support the flood prevention but at every level there has to be discussion with residents.


Follow this link to find out more about Somerset: http://www.somerset.gov.uk/ and for the EFRA Select Committee: www.parliament.uk/…/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee