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  1. West Country (E)

Two miles of dredging completed on Somerset Levels

The Environment Agency says it's now completed dredging along more than two miles of river on the Somerset Levels.

Silt is being scooped out from the River Parrett near Moorland and the River Tone near Burrow Mump. The work is due to continue until October.

It's hoped the dredging will improve drainage and help avoid a repeat of last winter's devastating floods.

We continue to work on the River Parrett between Westonzoyland Pumping Station and Raymonds Farm, and further upstream between Home Farm and Fenners Cottage along Riverside in Burrowbridge.

On the opposite bank of the River Parrett we are working between Millbrook Farm and Coates Farm.

On the Tone we continue to dredge between Stanmoor Bridge and Brooks Farm with 2 excavators and waterbased floating plant. Altogether we have 7 gangs working.

We have dredged a length of 3.5 km of river (7 km of total river bank length) on the Parrett and Tone. We’ve removed approximately 73,000m³ of silt and remain on programme to complete work by the end of October.

– Paul Gainey, Environment Agency

Somerset MP 'disappointed' in new Environment Secretary's failure to visit local farmers

Wells MP Tessa Munt Credit: John Stillwell/PA

A Somerset MP who says she wrote to the new Environment Secretary inviting her to meet local farmers, says she's disappointed that she failed to do so.

Wells MP Tessa Munt has criticised Liz Truss for failing to take the opportunity to meet with a group of local farmers and landowners from the Axe and Brue catchment areas during her visit to the Somerset Levels yesterday.

I know local people will be disappointed that she was unwilling to meet with them. I have the means to contact 1,100 affected smallholders, tenants and farmers with land abutting the Axe and Brue Rivers at short notice, and although they have missed out this time, I will write to Liz Truss again, asking that she meet those affected in my area so she understands these problems are not limited to the Parrett and the Tone.

– Tessa Munt MP

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New Environment Secretary says badgers won't be gassed

The new Environment Secretary has told ITV News that badgers won't be gassed as part of the badger cull. Liz Truss was speaking on a visit to Somerset, just ten days after taking over from Owen Paterson in the cabinet reshuffle.

Her comments came as she toured dredging work in Burrowbridge as part of the plan to prevent a repeat of the devastating floods on the Somerset Levels.

Liz Truss says no to gassing badgers

Government says no to badger gassing Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

The new Environment Secretary Liz Truss has told ITV West Country that the Government has ruled out gassing badgers.

Her pledge came as she visited the Somerset Levels for the first time to see the dredging operation. She said that the dredging will be completed on time.

New Environment Secretary to visit Burrowbridge

Environment Secretary Liz Truss Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

The new Environment Secretary is due to visit Somerset today.

Liz Truss will see work to prevent the flooding that devastated the levels and moors last winter. She will visit Burrowbridge to see dredging on the River Parrett.

EA considering increasing security after fuel thieves strike again

Dredging on the Somerset levels had to stop for a time today because fuel thieves have targeted the site for a second time.

Diesel has been stolen from 5 machines being used on the banks of the Rivers Parrett and Tone. The Environment Agency is now considering bringing in additional security. Francesca Carpenter reports.

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  1. West Country (E)

Dredging begins again after power cable accident

A dredger left idle at Riverside near Burrowbridge Credit: ITV News West Country

Dredging on one part of the Somerset levels has just started again after being put on hold when a digger hit an overhead power cable.

It happened on Saturday at Riverside near Burrowbridge. No one was hurt.

The Environment Agency says dredging was stopped while it reviewed working methods.

Other teams working on the Rivers Parrett and Tone were not affected.

Environment Secretary says dredging WILL be done on time

The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson pledged today that the dredging of two important rivers on the Somerset Levels WOULD be completed by October, as promised.

That's despite the fact that only 10%t of the work has been completed in the seven weeks so far. The Environment Agency says it's preparing to bring in four more dredging teams to help get the job done. Bob Constantine reports.

  1. West Country (E)

Paterson promises dredging WILL finish on schedule

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson meeting members of the Environment Agency and other organisations on the Somerset Levels Credit: ITV News West Country

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has been to see dredging work being carried out on the Somerset Levels today following concerns that the work had got off to a slow start.

The Environment Agency is dredging five miles of the rivers Tone and Parrett to make the water flow more easily and hopefully prevent a repeat of last winter's floods.

The number of dredgers is due to increase in the next few weeks Credit: ITV News West Country

Mr Paterson said that, although only 10% of the work had been completed so far, it would be finished on schedule by the end of October and the number of dredgers would be increased from two to six in the coming weeks.

Environment Secretary will be in Somerset today

Environment Secretary will be in Somerset today Credit: ITV News West Country

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will be meeting with the Environment Agency in Somerset today. He'll be discussing the progress of new flood defence work on the Levels after it was revealed only 5% of dredging had been completed.

They say they're confident it will be completed on time.

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