A CONCERNED Bridgwater resident has criticised the Environment Agency for not dredging the River Parrett sooner, after she contacted them two years ago.

Mrs T Gale wrote to the EA in July 2012 asking when they were going to dredge the river and who was responsible for clearing the silt.

She wrote: “The silt is very bad in the river and every time I pass the hospital, more has built up on the banks.

“Who is responsible for clearing it? Or will we be the next place with flooding?”

Mrs Gale has given the Mercury access to the letter she received from Simon Masterman from the EA, dated July 9, 2012.

It reads: “There are no plans to carry out dredging works on the River Parrett.

“You will be aware that Bridgwater has a long history as a port and was still being used as one in the early part of last century. It was in this context the channels needed to be maintained to ensure boats could navigate into Bridgwater, rather than a reduction in flood risk.

“We have permissive powers (not duties or responsibility) to undertake work on rivers but any work that we do undertake has to be justifiable in terms of reduction in flood risk, environmental impact and technical feasibility.

“As a tidal river, any benefit from dredging would be short lived as the river has such a high silt load.

“Following the construction of raised flood defences in Bridgwater, the town benefits from a high standard of flood protection and it is these that we maintain to ensure the protection is maintained rather than utilise tax payers’ money on work that is unsustainable, ineffective in the long term, costly, disruptive and very damaging to the local environment.

“It is important to note that the ultimate responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the river, including dredging, rests with the landowner adjacent to the river, so from an aesthetic perspective the landowner may wish to consider work to visually improve the river.”

Mrs Gale told the Mercury: “I’m sure many other local people must have contacted the EA urging them to dredge the river.

“I thought this letter might be of interest given the fact that dredging is now being considered two years too late.”