Major incident declared as people warned to 'prepare for the worst' amid flood risk in Somerset

Flooding at the Currymoor Pumping Station in Somerset at the weekend

A major incident has been declared in Somerset due to the risk of flooding across the county.

The Environment Agency says it is a precautionary measure to help authorities "prepare for the worst".

Parts of the Somerset Levels have already been hit by severe flooding this month, following heavy rainfall.

"Enhanced pumping" began yesterday (17 January) at Northmoor to clear water off the Somerset Levels.

A flood warning has also been issued for Saltmoor and Northmoor and agency officers have been offering advice to people in the village of Moorland.

It comes a week after the Environment Agency warned people in the South West to expect flooding to become more frequent because of climate change.

Emergency flood gates were closed to prevent traffic using a number of roads in the county.

The gates were installed at eight locations after the severe flooding on the Somerset Levels in 2014, which also saw a major incident declared.

Flooded fields by the River Parrett at Somerset Levels near Bridgwater in Somerset. Credit: PA

Ian Withers from the Environment Agency said: “The sight of water on the Somerset Levels and Moors is a concern to those who have suffered from flooding before.

“The situation is expected to improve when enhanced pumping begins and we continue to run the Sowy flood relief channel, it is prudent to plan for the worst and going into major incident mode is appropriate, so we coordinate with partners and everyone is ready to respond if needed.”

A major incident was declared back in 2014 due to severe flooding on the Levels

Councillor Bill Revans, from Somerset County Council, said: "The decision to declare a major incident at this stage means we are well-placed to respond.

"We will be supporting Environment Agency colleagues on the ground and taking every step to ensure our communities receive the help they need."

Additional pumps are in place at Saltmoor and Northmoor to reduce water levels along the River Parrett.

The Environment Agency said it is currently responding to flooding incidents in Somerset, flood risk in the Bristol Avon area and is monitoring rising groundwater levels in Dorset.

It is urging people to check their area's flood risk online.

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