DREDGING rivers, managing land and raising roads are among the key points included in a 20-year flood action plan to stop a repeat of flooding on the Somerset Levels.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was in Taunton this morning (March 5) meeting the leaders of Somerset County Council, John Osman, Sedgemoor District Council, Duncan McGinty, and South Somerset District Council’s Ric Pallister, to ensure they are “on board” with the draft plan.
The plan will be submitted to the Government tomorrow (March 6) and the County Gazette understands the masterplan to solve Somerset’s flooding problems will cost £100million.
Somerset’s MPs Jeremy Browne, Ian Liddell-Grainger and David Heath are in London ensuring Ministers are “on side” with the plan.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “We were given six weeks to come up with a plan and this shows we have taken the challenge.
“Owen was in Taunton to see if the leaders were on board as much as they can be at this stage – there are always going to be niggles.
“All the important things like dredging that you would want to be in the plan are there.”
During the Prime Minister’s visit to Taunton last month, he promised “money was no object” and “everything that was needed to be done, would be done”.
Mr Liddell-Grainger believes the Government will accept the plan, adding: “We have come up with a very mature, sophisticated document which will give a long term strategy to a long term problem.
“The Prime Minister gave us the opportunity and we want to protect us so we are saying this is what it is going to cost and if you sign up it is something you are not going to look back on.”
The executive group who made the plan is South Somerset District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Somerset County Council, Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board, Local Enterprise Partnership and the RSPB. Proposals were submitted by the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium (IDB), the Flooding on the Levels Action Group (FLAG), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT).
Mr Liddell-Grainger said he also hopes ministers will spread the word that Somerset is open for business because he said tourism has been hit, adding: “The reality is Somerset is open, it is just a small part that has water on it.”