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Flood defences take shape in Somerset

Major works to help reduce flooding on the Somerset Levels are continuing Credit: Somerset County Council

Major works to help reduce flooding on the Somerset Levels are continuing to progress with four huge concrete culverts now in place.

The culverts, which are part of the second phase of works at Beer Wall, each measure an impressive 2 metres tall by 3 metres wide and will allow any future flood water to pass under the A372.

Major works to help reduce flooding on the Somerset Levels are continuing Credit: Somerset County Council

A stretch of the A372 was closed for several weeks in 2014 due to flooding and then to accommodate emergency pumping.

The Beer Wall being built Credit: Somerset County Council

The Beer Wall scheme being built is part of the multi-agency 20 Year Flood Action Plan which is now being overseen by the Somerset Rivers Authority.

This is an important scheme to reduce the risk of future flooding and prevent the widespread disruption we witnessed back in 2014. I’m pleased to see it taking shape and know that a huge amount of work has been done already.

We are of course disappointed that the completion date has changed but it is important that we get this project right first time. As we have said from the start, with a complex design and build scheme of this nature unfortunately we can never be completely sure how long work will take, even once work is underway.

We apologise for the inconvenience for motorists and local communities keen to see this route reopened, but hope people understand how important this scheme is. Please be assured that we will be doing everything we can to complete this work as soon as possible.

As well as keeping the A372 open, the three-stage Beer Wall scheme is designed to reduce flood risk in the Sowy and Kings Sedgemoor Drain river systems.

– Cllr John Osman, Chairman of the Somerset Rivers Authority and Leader of Somerset County Council

Somerset's new community flood support boat needs a name - can you help?

Somerset's new community flood support boat needs a name - can you help? Credit: Somerset County Council

People in Somerset are being asked to come up with a name for the county's new community flood support boat.

A similar vessel was a lifeline during last year's floods and, when it's not involved in rescues, it will be used by disabled people.

The winner will get a chance to steer the boat themselves.

People have until noon on Thursday 23 April to submit names to Somerset County Council, which will then be shortlisted for public vote.

I think we can all agree that ‘community flood support boat’ is not a very catchy name! That’s why we’re appealing for your help in finding a new one.

Let’s not forget what this boat represents. A similar vessel provided a lifeline to residents who had no other way of reaching their homes during the terrible floods of 2014. It transported everyone from schoolchildren and commuters to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

When it’s not being used as a rescue boat, this Wheelyboat is fully adapted for wheelchair use and will be used to help disabled people access the water.

This is a boat for the community of Somerset, so it’s only right that the community gets to choose its name.

So whether you’re a pupil at school, a local resident who was affected by the floods or just a member of the public with a really good idea, please get in touch and let us know what you think it should be called.

– Paula Hewitt, Somerset County Council’s Director and Lead Commissioner for Economic and Community Infrastructure


Raised road to Muchelney opens tomorrow

The road to Muchelney disappeared during last year's floods Credit: ITV News

Final preparations are being made for the official opening of the newly raised road into Muchelney.

The road became an iconic image of the flooding on the Somerset Levels last winter - and the village of Muchelney was cut off.

The road is one of several projects to prevent future flooding on the Somerset Levels - including dredging eight kilometres of the rivers Parrett and Tone.

Flooding on the Somerset Levels a year on

Flooding on the Somerset Levels a year ago Credit: ITV News

This weekend marks a year since a "major incident" was declared on the Somerset Levels.

The worst floods ever seen there prompted huge support for local residents, some of whom have still not returned to normal life. But this winter many of them are looking forward with new confidence.

You look at it now and you can see that the river's flowing quite nicely. There's a big capacity there and I feel really happy to be living where we live.

– REBECCA HORSINGTON, Flooding on the Levels Action Group

Calls to end building on the floodplain

Flooding on the Somerset Levels last February Credit: PA

Insurers have warned flood defence spending must rise to a £1 billion a year over the next decade to prevent scenes like those which devastated Somerset last winter.

The Association of British Insurers is also calling for an end to building new homes in flood-risk areas.

It says some 20,000 new properties are being built on the floodplain each year, including 4,000 in places where there is significant risk of flooding.


Flood victims face five-fold rise in insurance

Thousands of flood victims across our region are facing spiralling insurance premiums this winter - while others can't get any insurance at all.

That's despite more assurances from David Cameron in the aftermath of the winter storms that hit Devon and Cornwall - and months of flooding on the Somerset Levels.

But some are now facing a fivefold increase in their premiums - or are facing winter without any cover. Here's David Woodland.

Moorland villagers face home insurance battle

A fifth of the 126 flood victims at Moorland on the Somerset Levels haven't been able to get buildings insurance this year. Others have seen huge hikes in premiums even if they didn't flood.

The swollen River Parrett runs next to Rebecca Horsington's Farmhouse but it has never flooded the house, as it overflows in the other direction.

Despite that she was told her insurance would rise from £425 to £3500.

Moorland at the height of last winter's floods. Credit: PA

It makes a nonsense of what has happened here because we have had the dredge happen, we've had flood defences put in, so really our flood risk is a lot lower than it was before the floods hit and therefore the insurance premiums should be reflecting that.

– Rebecca Horsington
  1. West Country (E)

Flooding fears as river levels rise in Somerset

The rising River Parrett has led to some fields becoming partially flooded Credit: ITV News

Flooding fears are on the rise on the Somerset Levels as people endure increased river levels and a week of rain.

The rain, which started on Monday, is set to continue until the weekend but agencies say that a repeat of February's flooding is currently unlikely.

The bridge at Burrowbridge demonstrates the rising river levels Credit: ITV News

The River Parrett is rising at Burrowbridge and some fields nearby are partially flooded. But the Environment Agency says there isn't a major risk.

There may be further isolated showers over the next few days but river levels are dropping and the risk of flooding is very low. We'll continue to monitor river levels closely and keep local communities informed.

In Somerset, some agricultural floodplain is currently storing water as a result of planned management of river levels. This is completely normal for this time of year. We are not expecting any properties to flood. It would take very heavy rainfall over a long period of time to put homes at risk.

– Environment Agency
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