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06.03.14

Action plan launched to protect flood-hit Somerset

A £10.5m funded action plan has been launched to provide homes and businesses in Somerset with better flood defences in the future.

Drawn up by local partners in the region, including the local councils, MPs, businesses and residents, the Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan has sets out a number of initiatives to ensure better protection going forward.

Measures include plans to dredge 8km of the Rivers Parrett and Tone as soon as it is safe and practical to do so; making some temporary flood defences and pumping sites permanent; helping local partners take more responsibility for water management on the Levels through a new Somerset rivers board; supporting farmers to manage flood risk better; and ensuring new developments meet the highest standards for water and drainage.

The action plan – financed by the Department for Transport (£10m) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (£500,000) – follows the Prime Minister’s announcement of an extra £10m to help Somerset deal with, and recover from, the severe floods.

Environment secretary Owen Paterson said: “The exceptional weather over the past few months has taken its toll on flood prone communities. The plan we have received today includes some immediate actions that will help do this and I’m pleased that dredging will start as soon as it is safe to do.

“We will continue to work with local partners on other proposals to ensure we secure a sustainable future for communities on the Somerset Levels.”

The Somerset Levels action plan also outlines a number of long-term proposals to ensure Somerset is better equipped to deal with the risk of flooding in the future. They include helping local partners take more responsibility for water management on the Levels through a new Somerset rivers board, and supporting farmers to manage flood risk better.

Cllr John Osman, Somerset County Council leader, said: “This is a big step forward, bringing hope to our flood-hit communities. We have worked with government and other partners to find solutions in the short, medium and long term, for what we can do now and what we need to plan for in the future.”

In addition to support for Somerset, the government has announced further measures to help fishermen affected by the recent storms, pledging to make financial support under the European Fisheries Fund to reimburse up to 60% of the cost of replacing lost or damaged fishing gear such as lobster pots.

(Image copyright Ben Birchall and PA Wire)

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