Published: January 28, 2014
Burnham Conservative welcomes bid to find long-term flood solution

Burnham-On-Sea's Conservative parliamentary candidate has this week welcomed the government's bid to seek a long-term solution to flooding in Somerset.

James Heappey joined Environment Secretary Owen Paterson (pictured) on a visit to Moorland Pumping Station on Monday when the comments were made.

It followed a series of meetings with Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council, along with other local stakeholders, to discuss the impact of flooding on the Somerset Levels and agree a plan for reducing future flooding.

In six weeks, the local authorities, drainage boards and Environment Agency are to develop and agree an action plan to deal with flooding on the Levels to which Mr Paterson will then provide central government support.

"This may not have been the immediate relief that some local people were hoping for, but the Secretary of State and the local councils are absolutely right to seek a solution that will last for 20 years or more," said Mr Heappey.

"Dredging the rivers once will give us some respite but I would far rather see a long term plan in place and funded so that the management of water on the levels is sorted for a generation. I think today’s meetings have concluded exactly that."

"Since the flooding of 2012 the Highbridge-based drainage board has done some work on the drains and rhynes which local people say has increased the drainage capacity in the area surrounding Burnham, Wedmore, Glastonbury and Cheddar."

However, Mr Heappey was keen to stress to the Environment Secretary that sorting out the rhynes and drains achieves very little until the rivers have been adequately dredged.

"As the plan for reducing flooding is developed over the next six weeks, I’ll be campaigning vigorously for the Rivers Axe and Brue to be central to their deliberations so that the benefits are felt across Somerset," added Mr Heappey.

"The current flooding around the Tone and Parrett is awful and people need help now but this is an opportunity for a strategic plan to be put in place and we must grasp it with both hands. It is what many people locally have been campaigning towards for a long time."

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