Published: January 24, 2014
Burnham's MP calls for 'radical action' to get flooding issues resolved

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has this week claimed the Environment Agency is unable to cope with flooding across Somerset and has demanded "more radical action" to resolve the problems.

Tessa Munt told a debate in the House of Commons that more reliance should be placed on local drainage boards with better information, such as the Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium which is based in Highbridge.

"I have to say that the Environment Agency has been pretty clear locally that it cannot cope with the situation, so much more radical action is needed," she said.

"The expertise sits in the internal drainage boards. They have the people with all the knowledge and they should be allowed to do the work. They can do it. Somebody needs to take some action about removing that responsibility from the Environment Agency."

She added: "The reality, however, is that if the money paid by internal drainage boards to the Environment Agency is given back to the IDBs, such as the Axe Brue IDB in my area, along with some responsibility, then contractors with expertise and knowledge of the local area can actually carry out work to prevent flooding in future."

"We really have to address this. I spoke with Richard Benyon, then the Minister with responsibility for flooding, when he visited farmers in my constituency in April last year."

Tessa added: "Promises have been made, but we need to take action and stop the poor farmers and landowners, who are paying rates to the drainage boards, having to pay twice. Every time they are asked to respond by taking action to help themselves, they have already paid for that response in the money that goes to the Environment Agency. We have to do something."

The MP also told the Commons that it is important that the Rivers Axe and Brue - which run through the Burnham-On-Sea area - are dredged.

"They are also in need of dredging, and the level of flooding caused by those rivers is extremely worrying for my constituents. So it is not only the Tone and the Parrett that need dredging," she said.

Pictured: Top, Tessa in the Commons and, above, with Richard Benyon, former minister with responsibility for flooding, during his visit


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