THE Environment Agency has warned the budget of around £2million for river dredging next year “won’t be enough”.
The revelation came at a special meeting of Sedgemoor’s corporate community scrutiny committees on Friday, which aimed to analyse the response to the winter flooding and take steps to prevent mistakes happening again.
Nick Gupta, Environment Agency area manager, told councillors that despite the financial support the Somerset Flooding Group has rec-eived, the current dredging budget next year won’t be enough based on this year’s figures.
Around 12 members attended the meeting at Sedgemoor District Coun-cil, Bridgwater, to highlight key areas of risks, improvements and what must be done by responsible authorities.
Sedgemoor councillors were urged to demand that the Government publishes the reasons why the Environ-ment Agency failed to act quickly en-ough to avoid 47 square miles of Sedgemoor being flooded for so long.
West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger told members he was “disgusted” by how Somerset County Council and the Environment Agency handled the flooding.
Also present were Kerry Rickards, chief executive, Cllr Duncan McGinty, leader, Sarah Dowden, civil contingencies manager, and Alan Lovell, Wessex Regional Flood Committee chairman.
Nothing has been set in stone in terms of Somerset’s ‘20-year plan’ to prevent further major floods, but the EA stated that “it is going in the right direction”.
Tony Bradford, an independent farmer and a member of the Parrett Internal Drainage Board, said: “We need a plan that’s going to be started in the next two to three years, never mind 20.
“We have an opportunity and we need everyone to get behind the plan to get all the remaining water away as quick as possible.
“If we don’t put this right now we might as well pack up and give in.”
The committee also agreed the following recommendations which will now go before the executive committee on September 10:
- That the trigger mechanisms the Environment Agency will be using to minimise the risk of flooding to property and agricultural land will be considered at a future scrutiny committee.
- The Council calls upon Govern-ment to fund the building of the Parrett Tidal Exclusion Barrier and a permanent pumping station at Dunball and to announce this in the Autumn Budget Statement.
- To call upon the Environment Agency and Somerset County Council as the statutory water management authority to identify at the earliest at point at which a major incident will be declared in the future.
- SDC will continue to vigorously lobby Government to make sure the necessary funding will be available for flood protection.
- To visit the pumping stations and other key sites to understand the issues.