1. ITV Report

120,000 tonnes removed in dredging in Somerset

120,000 tonnes has been removed from the Rivers Parrett & Tone Photo: ITV News

6 months on from the worst flooding on the Somerset levels in a generation, work continues to stop it happening again. So far the dredgers have removed more than 120,000 tonnes from the Rivers Parrett and Tone. The Environment Agency today said that the project to clear an 8 kilometre stretch is running on time and should be complete by the end of October.

The government has dug deep - Reshaping the riverbanks is costing more than a million pounds a mile. Eight crews using specially equipped diggers are following a new outline to increase the capacity of the River tone and Parrett by a third.

The work which started in April is making up for years of no dredging and poor maintenance and marks the start of a twenty year plan to prevent severe flooding.

Water is being pumped away from the floods in Somerset Credit: ITV News

No guarantees anywhere but this work along with other work that we're doing in the catchment: ring banks around local villages, improved pumping station capacity and maintenance all adds up to reduce flood risk for the local community. But we are going to have to do more work next year and in the future years.

– Craig Woolhouse, Environment Agency

John Stiles home backs on to the River Tone where work has halted briefly after the discovery of water voles in the area which have to moved on but he hopes the dredging will make a difference.

There are people who say the dredging will solve everything. And there are people who say the dredging will solve nothing because the real problem is the building of large housing estates in Yeovil and around Taunton which have increased the flow of water into the river.

– John Stiles, Resident
Dredging work was delayed after water voles and other animals were found Credit: ITV News

We've had to over come environmental challenges in terms of badgers, water voles, nesting birds and obviously not being able to dredge those we've had to wait and get those screened off but obviously we're out of the nesting season now so that's opened up sections that we didn't have at the beginning.

– Bill Gush, Managing Director

The contractors remain confident that they'll be finished by late autumn but ultimately the Environment Agency knows a new waterway will to be have to be created to avoid a repeat of last winters scenes and allow more rain water to escape. For now sandbags remain.