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Farmers protest outside Environment Agency demanding the river be dredged
1:00pm Tuesday 28th January 2014 in News
ANGRY farmers frustrated at how the flooding has been handled gathered outside the Environment Agency’s offices in Bridgwater to protest.
The farmers blocked the entrance to the building in West Quay on Friday, demanding that the River Parrett is dredged.
Among them was Michael Horsington, who said: “I’m so angry. Two-thirds of my farm is underwater.
“I’ve been farming 40 years and it has never been like this in living memory.”
Luke Brooker said: “We want the Environment Agency to dredge the river or the problem won’t go away.”
Not just farmers wanted to vent their anger – businesses have been affected by the flooding, too.
Darren Buckley, who works for Neil Craddock Wood Flooring, said: “They’ve been hopeless. There’s no information on what’s happening.
“You feel you’re on your own, so as a community we had to get together.”
Gary Walker, of Adam Chorley Cleaning and Maintenance, said: “I can’t get to work. Roads are cut off with 30-mile detours.
“I’m letting down my customers and it’s costing my business.”
Oliver Smart, 17, of Westonzoyland, who went to the protest to stick up for older people in his village, and said: “They said they would hand out sandbags, so I spent a whole day at home waiting.
“It turns out you had to go all the way to the community centre to collect them.
“It’s alright for someone like me because I’m young, but there are lots of elderly people who can’t drive who will struggle.”
Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, who turned up to show support for the protest, believes the flooding this year is ominous for the future of Bridgwater.
He said: “We’ve been flooded in places we’ve never been flooded before – Sutton Mallet, Westonzoyland – and I worry that if water’s coming up where we didn’t expect it will we suddenly find it in Bridgwater?”
“There’s no way we can continue to cope with what we have to put up with at the moment and we’re asking for Government help because we can’t go on like this.
“I’m furious with the Environment Agency because they’ve failed us again.”
Paul Gayney, of the Agency, said: “Dredging is a solution, but it’s very expensive and wouldn’t solve the problem – even if we’d been dredging we’d still be flooding.”
“If we’re going to dredge we’ll have to do it regularly and we just can’t afford to do that.
“We have to work with what we’re given.
“The harsh reality is the funding isn’t there for us to do any dredging.”
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