Urgent flooding measures called for at Taunton flood summit
By abbie_taunton | Monday, March 18, 2013, 15:20
MPs have called for urgent measures to prevent a repeat of the devastation recently brought to low-lying areas of Somerset by flooding.
Some farmland on the Somerset Levels has been under water for several months
A flood summit held in Taunton last Friday (March 15) saw Western MPs discussing options following the ruin caused by floods late last year.
Among the outcomes was agreement for a major review of how different agencies co-ordinate their work and take responsibility.
At the meeting, Wells MP Tessa Munt called for the logging and mapping of every gully, with the help of local communities, and for the county council to give each a priority status for cleaning.
She said: "People on community service could be asked to sweep leaves, clear drains and gullies."
Tessa also added that it is crucial that the Environment Agency adds another clause to its aims and objectives.
"At the moment they include the protection of habitat and wildlife, which is valid, but they must include the protection of productive land. We need to encourage farmers, and not to dismiss them," she said.
Robbie Williams, operations manager for the Environment Agency said: "Hope comes from the fact that there is clearly a debate going on in Westminster.
"The key ministers understand the tension and the pressure. We have demonstrated that it is technically possible, and viable, to de-silt. The question then is can the country afford it, and can all those who have an interest in some way work to achieve it."
But Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said: "If the Environment Agency can find £31 million to flood Steart to create wetland it can find the money to dredge the rivers."
The summit was organised by councillors from all five Somerset district councils and the county council.
Organisations including the Environment Agency, Met Office, Somerset Internal Drainage Board, Wessex Water and the Country Land and Business Association and three Somerset MPs, Mr Liddell-Grainger, Ms Munt and Taunton's Jeremy Browne attended the event.
Councillor Ric Pallister, leader of South Somerset District Council, said: "It isn't just about money, it is how as agencies we work more intelligently with each other, our farming community, our villages and most importantly individual households who are at risk from future downpours."