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Somerset Levels dredging began in April 2014, ten years ago

Dredging begins on the Somerset Levels in April 2014

Posted on April 10, 2024

THE first part of the massive dredging operation on the Somerset Levels began on this week 10 years ago in 2014 in Burrowbridge.

A 22-tonne excavator and a dumper truck arrived at Millwood Farm to start dredging a 200 metre stretch of the River Parrett.

At the time, an Environment Agency spokesman said: “In the next five to six weeks they will be working on dredging where the silt accumulation is at its worst.

“There is no set timeframe yet for how long the entire dredging operation will take. “We will go for as long as it takes.”

Campaigners who had been demanding the rivers be dredged to prevent further flooding disasters are warning their work isn’t over.

However, now in 2024, has the dredging been a success? There is certainly flooding issues on the Levels for the ten years since dredging began.

Rebecca Horsington, a member of The Flooding on the Levels Action Group (FLAG), said in 2014: “The dredging is really good news but it needs to be done adequately so everyone on the Levels gets the benefits from it.”

FLAG was set up in response to the floods in December 2012 originally as a pressure group to campaign for the dredging of the rivers.

Ms Horsington said: “It’s definitely not us done. We need to ensure that flooding of this scale and duration never happens again. We need to keep the pressure on.

“The 20 Year Plan has lots of good ideas, but the funding isn’t in place yet. “It’s FLAG’s role to continue to push for a change in Government policy.

“This includes the acknowledgement that the Somerset Levels are a unique place and that a fairer funding system is required.”

Somerset County Council welcomed the start of the dredging in 2014 as it council stumped up £800,000 towards dredging with a further £200,000 committed for local flood prevention schemes in January that followed.

Then council leader Cllr John Osman was there to see the first dredger in action.

He said at the time: “It’s great to finally see dredging has started today along eight kilometres of the Rivers Parrett and Tone.

“Flood affected communities and the county council have campaigned long and hard for this day.

“This is the first step in a much larger plan that will hopefully mitigate against future effects of flooding.”


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