THE prospect of a River Parrett flood defence barrier being created downstream of Bridgwater has taken a step closer to becoming reality.

More than 60 researchers, consultants and councillors met during a technical workshop held at Sedgemoor District Council’s offices last week to discuss possible design options for the project.

The purpose of the workshop, organised by the Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council, was to give an update of the flood risk in the catchment and outline options for mitigating it.

John Buttivant, coastal engineer for the Environment Agency, said: “We are currently building a detailed model which looks at the water flowing into and out of the rivers systems across the Somerset Levels and Moors.

“The modelling will provide evidence to understand the wider benefits of a River Parrett barrier.

“This work will allow an informed decision on the preferred solution.”

As mentioned in the Somerset Levels and Moors 20-year Flood Action Plan, a barrier to the River Parrett is needed to address the impact of sea level rise and protect Bridgwater from flooding.

A tidal surge barrier would protect the tidal Parrett and Tone upstream of Bridgwater from the effects of extreme high tide and surges.

But it is estimated that it will be three to five years before construction starts and is likely to take a further three to five years to complete.

The workshop saw presentations and discussions from national experts and constructive feedback from all parties, who agreed to work together to deliver what the Minister has asked for by the 2024 deadline as identified in the 20-year flood action plan.

A spokesman for SDC said: “There are already permissions and processes already agreed to construct a surge barrier. “The group will review this to make sure that this technical solution is the best possible option. A report will be complied by September which will set out the way forward.

“During the summer, a working group will be keeping up the momentum that has been generated from the meeting today (Friday).”