Press release

Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council set-up Bridgwater barrier workshop

A technical workshop to discuss the possible options for a River Parrett barrier downstream of Bridgwater will be run at Sedgemoor District Council’s offices between 9am and 4pm on Friday 6 June.

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The purpose of the workshop, organised by the Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council, will be to update partners of the flood risk in the catchment, outline the options for mitigating it and clarify what each option may or may not be able to achieve.

It has been identified that a barrier to the River Parrett is needed to address the impact of sea level rise and protect the town from flooding.

A key action of the Somerset Levels and Moors 20 year Flood Action Plan is to reduce the duration and frequency of flooding and to review design options for the Bridgwater barrier. The first stage of this action is to stage a technical workshop for an invited audience.

The Agency, Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council have come together to develop and deliver the Bridgwater Challenge, a strategy and vision for the regeneration of Bridgwater.

After the workshop, the Environment Agency will be joining with Sedgemoor District Council to update the current report, which will help inform the decision on the best option for Bridgwater and the surrounding area.

John Buttivant 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.

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

It is estimated that it will be three to five years before construction starts and is likely to take a further 3-5 years to complete.

There are currently two main options to the type of barrier that may be possible in Bridgwater:

• Penning structures, which act as a barrier to prevent salt water from the estuary entering the River Parrett. This would maintain a more constant fresh water level upstream of the barrier and exclude downstream tidal inundation and saline intrusion. • Storm surge barriers or tidal barriers which are structures that are closed when an extreme water level or tide is forecast, in order to prevent flooding from the sea, in settlements up river. River flow coming down the catchment would be stored upstream of the barrier while it is closed. When the tide falls and the barrier reopens, the fresh river water flows out.

Ends

Published 4 June 2014