PRIME Minister David Cameron is being urged to support a £100million plan to protect the Somerset Levels from more devastating floods.
As reported, The Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan includes measures to dredge rivers, raise roads, and another look at the Bridgwater Barrage.
Now the 20-year plan has been released to the public and Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger will deliver it to Downing Street later today (March 6).
Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “The Prime Minister made it very clear that money would be no object on this. If we are going to secure the Levels for the future we are going to have to do this.”
He added: “We have come up with a very mature, sophisticated document which will give a long term strategy to a long term problem.
“The Prime Minister gave us the opportunity and we want to protect us, so we are saying this is what it is going to cost and if you sign up it is something you are not going to look back on.”
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was in Taunton yesterday (March 5) meeting the leaders of Somerset County Council, John Osman, Sedgemoor District Council, Duncan McGinty, and South Somerset District Council’s Ric Pallister, to ensure they are “on board” with the draft plan.
The plan, requested by Mr Paterson six weeks ago, proposes a tidal barrage across the River Parrett. However, it admits that could take up to 15 years and cost up to £30 million.
It suggests raising the levels of the A361 and the A362 to stop communities such as Muchelney being cut off by floods.
Dredging five miles of the rivers Tone and Parrett should start at the end of the month, costing an initial £5.5 million and then £1.2 million annually.
Among the first to see the Plan was the Flooding on the Levels Action Group (FLAG). Chairman Heather Venn said the group was “cautiously optimistic”.
“We need to keep a careful eye on this, and it is absolutely crucial that the funding is there, but it is a very positive first step and we welcome much that is in it,” she said.
The 23-page document says: “The total cost of the measures identified within this plan are in excess of £100 million over the next 10 years.
“This figure is clearly beyond the amount that local partners can provide alone without having to undermine essential services, or make difficult and divisive choices on critical issues like growth and infrastructure provision at both the local and LEP (local enterprise partnership) level.”
It adds: “It is an assessment of what can be done to avoid a repeat of the events of the last three months on the Levels and moors, and recognises the choices and decisions that will be needed on the best mix of approaches and actions to provide long-term security to those worst-affected communities.”
Council Leader John Osman said: “We have worked together to find solutions in the short, medium and long term.
“The Plan contains some firm ideas for what we can do now, but also some broad ambitions such as a sluice or barrage for the River Parrett and long term projects to prevent water entering the area in the first place.
“We listened to local people in drawing up the plan and we will spend a lot of time now talking and listening to them again to ensure the plan is fit for purpose and supported by local people.”