AROUND 80,000 cubic metres of silt have been removed from the Parrett and Tone rivers as part of a huge dredging project to help relieve flooding.

The huge project by the Environment Agency has involved a fleet of tractors and trailers, many driven by local farmers, to carry the material away.

The silt will be used for spreading on agricultural land or for flood bank strengthening.

The dredging project, being completed in partnership with the Land and Water Services, began in March and is now about 60 per cent complete.

Dredging has been carried out on a four-kilometre stretch of the Parrett between Burrowbridge and Andersea, and on the Tone between Burrowbridge and Curload.

The EA says they are working carefully after discovering water voles on the Tone on a section where they are due to start dredging shortly.

Their spokesman, Graham Quarrier, said: “We have worked closely with Natural England to obtain an appropriate licence.

“We will be trapping and relocating the voles over the next week. This will ensure the completion date is not delayed and we don’t harm a protected species.”

The EA is holding a community open morning between 10am and 12.30pm on Saturday, August 30, at the dredging compound at Samways Farm on Riverside in Burrowbridge.

People are invited to find out more about the dredging scheme, due to be completed by the end of October, as well as repair work they are carrying out improvements to Northmoor pumping station, sluices, gates and coastal flood defences that were damaged in the floods.