LARGE quantities of soil from housing developments will be stored on the Somerset Levels before being used to construct the Bridgwater tidal barrier.

The Environment Agency (EA) secured planning permission in November 2023 to create a “temporary material stockpile” on land north of Oliver’s Road in Middlezoy, just off the busy A372 between Bridgwater and Langport.

The stockpile will store soil from the Orchard Grove development site on the western edge of Taunton, and will be used to make improvements to three natural reservoirs within the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Somerset Council has now given permission for a similar facility to be constructed just down the road in Westonzoyland, operated by private contractor Towens of Weston Ltd.

The site for this newest compound lies between Middlezoy Aerodrome and the Springway Industrial Estate on Springway Lane – where Portishead resident Garry Baird applied to build 21 new homes.

The land will be used for up to three years to store up to 85,000 tonnes soil and other inert materials from greenfield development sites in the local area – potentially including the sites on Bower Lane and Dunwear Lane in eastern Bridgwater, which are earmarked for future housing growth.

Planning officer Ruth Amundson laid out the rationale for the proposals when the council’s strategic planning committee met in Shepton Mallet on June 6.

She said: “The flood defence works need clean, clay-rich materials, and they’d be sourced from greenfield development sites in the area and brought to the site throughout the year.

“The material would then be transferred to the flood defence scheme as required in a series of ‘campaigns’, mainly during the spring and summer when those works take place.”

The material housed at both stockpiles will be used to service, maintain and repair three local reservoirs which are vital for flood prevention – Southlake Moor (near Burrowbridge), Curry Moor (near North Curry) and Westmoor (near Curry Rivel).

Elizabeth Parfitt from Westonzoyland Parish Council said the impact of this site should be considered cumulatively with the Olivers Road location.

She told the committee: “There are residents within metres of the site, who will effectively be sandwiched between the existing site and the newly proposed one.”

John Telling, who works for Towens of Weston Ltd., said his company would support the local village to reduce the impact of traffic to and from the site.

He said: “We already have a waste recycling and reuse centre in Middlezoy, which mainly deals with the waste materials coming out of Hinkley Point.

“We also have a recycled aggregated facility in Westonzoyland, where we are processing subsoil into recycled sand and stone for use in construction projects, which reduces the need for quarried stone. This soil would otherwise go to landfill.

“The soil stored here will be used in flood defence works across Somerset and also on the Bridgwater tidal barrier across the River Parrett, protecting local villages.

“We have supported the parish council by paying for the installation of vehicle activated speed signs in the village, and all our vehicles are fitted with speed and location trackers.”

After around 45 minutes’ debate, the committee voted to approve the plans by nine votes to one, with one abstention.

The EA secured revised permission from the council’s planning committee north for the Oliver’s Road site on June 11, with the only changes being the route trucks would take from the soil storage area to the Southlake Moor Reservoir.

Under the amended proposals – which were unanimously approved by the committee – trucks will turn onto Pathe Road to access the reservoir from the east, rather than passing through Burrowbridge and having to double back from the west.