THE DREDGING of the River Parrett to a tune of £1.7m has been suggested as one way of preventing a repeat of last year’s devastating floods.

The idea was suggested in a Flood Risk Management report to Somerset County Council, based on the findings of a Flood Summit held in May, which saw groups such as the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board and Wessex Water discuss possible solutions.

The report will be discussed at a county council cabinet meeting next Wednesday, September 11, along with whether £300,000 could be found by SCC to contribute toward a partnership fund for dredging the Rivers Parrett and Tone.

The report by Barry James, Strategic Commissioning Manager (Community Infrastructure) at SCC, warns: “Failure to help make dredging happen has a wide range of risks and implications, many of which are potentially very serious.

“There will be a detrimental impact on property, businesses and agricultural land of flood water remaining on land longer than necessary.

“The financing model for the Environment Agency is based on protecting people and residential property, and as such it does not have the money available to undertake dredging to the level required to have a substantial benefit.”

The range of cost extends from £1.7m to £4.1m, for a 1km stretch of the Parrett and 4km of the Tone, to 4km of both being dredged. The annual cost of maintenance is estimated to be around £200,000.

It has been recommended flooding issues be added to the agendas for a series of public consultation events being planned by the County Council for autumn 2013, though no dates have been announced.