SOMERSET’S river dredging operation should be extended to the Rivers Axe and Brue, says Burnham MP Tessa Munt.
Ms Munt has been meeting Defra ministers in London this week to put forward the case for dredging of the rivers and the adjoining rhynes so the whole water catchment area is considered, rather than just the rivers Parrett and Tone.
She told the Weekly News: “We need to look at the whole area. We have water that can’t get to the pumps and the Axe and Brue valleys have had catastrophic flooding.
“It affects productive land, such as famers and the good people who grow their own produce, which is celebrated at things like Burnham’s food festival.
“I accept the Levels are a flood plain, but water needs to be taken off, not left there. It’s ludicrous and more needs to be done because just hoping it will get better won’t work.
“We need to make sure there’s money for dredging and work out the Environment Agency’s role.”
Meanwhile Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was mobbed by people affected by the flooding when he arrived at Northmoor Pumping Station in Sedgemoor on Monday.
Mr Paterson said he wanted to see a “concrete plan” from local authorities, the Environment Agency, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Transport, the internal drainage boards and the Department for Communities and Local Government - submitted to him within the next six weeks.
Projects could include a barrage for Bridgwater, dredging rivers, and other flood prevention measures.
But the EA still maintains dredging would not have prevented flooding.
Kate Marks, Environment Agency flood risk manager, said: “Dredging is often not the best long term or economic solution and increased dredging of rivers on the Somerset Levels would not have prevented the recent widespread flooding.”