FLOATING pumps and easy-to-assemble barriers could be used in the coming years to relieve Somerset residents and businesses who have been flooded.

Staff from the Environment Agency tested the new equipment for the first time at Gold Corner Pumping Station near Highbridge on Thursday afternoon (October 4).

The event was part of a series of training exercises being carried out by the agency in the run-up to winter, ensuring that staff were familiar with the equipment and that said kit was “fit for purpose”.

The agency has said it hopes none of this equipment will be needed in Somerset this winter – but said its Bridgwater depot would be primed to deploy it if the need arose.

The floating pump (also known as a ‘puddle pump’) is designed to sit on top of floodwater, slowly falling as the water level drains away.

To demonstrate the technology, agency engineers created an artificial basin near the pumping station, with the pump driving water back into the Huntspill River.

Both this and the six-inch pumps mounted on trailers are designed as reactive measures, which can be deployed at short notice to get rid of floodwater.

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The new flood barriers which were tested are also designed to be rapidly deployed in the event of flood events or warnings, consisting of small, angled sections which are light, robust and easy to assemble at short notice.

The agency has already invested in 40km-worth of temporary flood barriers and 250 high volume pumps across the UK ahead of the winter weather.

Team leader Ryan Kennedy said that it was vital to test now to ensure he and his colleagues were “winter-ready”.

He said: “This is newly acquired kit – we wanted to test it out, to make sure it was fit for purpose.

“We also want to make sure that our guys were familiar with the kit, that we identified any issues in training, and ensuring they are ready to deploy it in anger if needs be.”

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Other exercises focussing on high-value pumps will be carried out in other locations in the run-up to Christmas.

Mr Kennedy said the agency’s Bridgwater depot had “extensive holdings” of equipment (including those tested at Gold Corner), making them well-prepared for whatever the elements had in store.

He added: “Hopefully none of this will need to be used. This is reactive equipment – we can deploy it anywhere in the country.

“We like to think we have all the equipment we need and the training to accompany it.”