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Environment Agency urges public to stay safe around rivers

The Environment Agency (EA) has urged the public stay safe around rivers and not to drive through flood water, as rain battered many parts of the country.

Chris Francis, of the EA, told ITV News that rivers in the south west of England are "very swollen" due to heavy rain, so people should remain very cautious.

"We've had so much rain, and debris in the river has got caught up with all the flooding," he said.

"Hopefully the rain should stop soon. The water seems to be flowing clearly under the river now, so it should start to recede fairly soon."

Mr Francis added that EA teams have been dispatched to respond to reports of flooding in the region, and have been checking rivers and bridges to help ensure public safety.

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Somerset Levels dredgers retrieve eight cars from river

Environment Agency staff recover a car from the River Parrett Credit: Aaron Baker / SWNS.com

Workers dredging a river in the Somerset Levels have turned up eight cars over the last week, all within 100 metres of each other.

This van was among eight vehicles retrieved from the riverbed Credit: Aaron Baker/SWNS.com

Environment Agency staff working to help relieve flooding in the area noticed the cars, which could be up to 20 years old, in the drainage channel of the River Parrett.

It is so far unknown how the cars may have ended up on the riverbed, but officials stressed they would not have contributed to recent high water levels.

Workers examine another of the cars retrieved from the River Parrett Credit: Aaron Baker / SWNS.com

Dredging begins across flooded Somerset

The UN biggest study into the impact of climate change released today warned severe flooding will be more frequent as the effects of climate change are felt across the globe.

Read: Global experts warn global warming damage 'severe, pervasive and irreversible'

Governments have been urged to prepare for the risks of climate change such as higher sea levels, and adapt to the changing weather patterns it may bring.

In Somerset today residents celebrated as dredging started in the River Parret, as part of the Environment Agency's 'Flood Action Plan'. Measures such as dredging could become more common, as Dan Rivers reports.

Dredging begins in flooded areas of Somerset

Dredging is underway on the the flood-hit Somerset Moors and Levels this morning.

Workers from Land & Water dredging the River Parrett Credit: ITV News West Country

Work is beginning on a 200-yard stretch on the River Parrett, before excavators start on a five-mile stretch of river near Burrowbridge.

The work is on a key part of the river which has been specially identified for dredging and where "significant amounts" of silt have built up, the Environment Agency has said.

The River Parrett has built up 'significant amounts' of silt Credit: ITV News West Country

Local campaigners and residents have blamed the extent of the crisis on a lack of dredging on the River Tone and River Parrett.

Gav Sadler, of Flooding on the Levels Action Group (Flag), said the dredging was "a very encouraging sight, but is just the beginning."

Local campaigners have criticised a lack of dredging of rivers in Somerset Credit: ITV News West Country

"We would like to see all the rivers dredged," he went on. "Another issue is we don't know the quality of the dredging they are going to do.

"We would like to see a little bit of transparency from the Environment Agency," he added. "This affects our lives, we want to make sure they do a proper job."

Land & Water removing silt from the River Parrett today Credit: ITV News West Country
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