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.
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.
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 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.
On day one of the Bath and West Show the impact of the exceptionally wet winter on the farming community has been a major talking point.
The Floods Minister Dan Rogerson has responded to criticism that the dredging operation to clear the River Parrett is running behind schedule, and this afternoon the Duchess of Cornwall met with Somerset flooding victims to hear how they're recovering. Bob Cruwys reports
The Environment Agency has issued an update on the current dredging situation, after it was revealed that the works on the Somerset Levels are well behind schedule.
We continue to dredge downstream on both sides of the River Parrett. We have so far removed about 13,050m³ of silt over a 445 metre length. Land and Water Services continue to work long days from Monday to Friday and we are looking at the possibility of some weekend working as a further contingency.
We held flood surgeries in North Newton and Kingsbury Episcopi for those residents living in the Northmoor, Chadmead, Thorney and Newton areas. You will have seen us cutting the grass and vegetation around the river to prepare for dredging.
We will start dredging with a long arm excavator on the River Tone this week. We will start on the left bank between Cuts Road and Creeds Farm. Dredging will continue downstream of Moorland House Farm on both banks of the River Parrett.
Over the next couple of weeks:
Dredging will continue downstream of Moorland House Farm on both banks of the River Parrett. We will have to work around a section of mature trees to minimise potential damage.
We will be moving into our main compound at Gillards in Burrowbridge.
We will be preparing to start work on the River Tone by the end of May.
We are confident that the work will be completed in the time-frame originally outlined barring any adverse weather. The health and safety of the people doing the work is of paramount importance to us and there welfare and wellbeing must always be taken into consideration.
A trial dredge off Falmouth has begun today to see if a controversial deep water channel can be opened up to the port. The £200,000 trial will measure the potential impact on rare marine life and the fishing grounds.
Opponents fear dredging will cause damage to the environment, but supporters say it's vital for the future expansion of the port.