tides have been allowed to deliberately flood the Steart peninsula
coastline near Burnham-On-Sea this week in a £20 million scheme
to reduce the loss of inter-tidal habitat.
£20m habitat scheme launched on Steart peninsula
250 hectares of low-lying land near the mouth of the River Parrett
are now under water for the first time after the completion of
a newly excavated 200-metre gap in the coastal embankments.
Marshes, as the land is now known, is estimated to replace half
the anticipated loss of habitat, as well as reducing the risk
of flooding on the Somerset Levels.
joint project between the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the
Environment Agency has cost around £20 million.
scheme uses the shallow gradient and coarse vegetation of the
saltmarsh to absorb wave energy naturally which helps to protect
local villages from storm surges, and protect the newly constructed
flood banks from erosion so that they last longer.
including Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger have condemned the
scheme as a "grandiose scheme-cum-nature reserve." He
criticised the creation of a scheme with "unproven"
benefits while for years dredging of the rivers Parrett and Tone
the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust's Chief Executive, Martin Spray,
has defended the scheme and said: "We need to be brave and
bold if we are going to deal with the impacts of climate change.
WWT Steart Marshes proves you can protect homes and businesses
by using wetland technology that works with nature, not against
it. Climate change is here now. Last winter was the wettest on
record and we suffered the worst storms for 20 years. I want to
give full credit to the villagers of the Steart Peninsula for
getting behind this idea, helping to shape it and helping to save
the peninsula from being lost to rising sea levels."
Cox at the Environment Agency added: "Over 200km of coastal
banks around the Severn Estuary reduce flood risk to more than
100,000 homes and businesses, a benefit valued at £5 billion.
There is an ongoing need to maintain these structures."
Steart project will directly protect homes, businesses and the
surrounding infrastructure. The National Grid power lines into
Hinkley Point power station are a key element of the national
infrastructure protected by the scheme."
is a natural flood risk management scheme. Like coral reefs or
mangroves in the tropics, saltmarsh takes energy out of the tide
and reduces wave height."
Steart Marshes the new flood embankments are set behind 100s of
metres of saltmarsh which will reduce the impact of high tides
on them, bringing down maintenance costs and prolonging their
a million cubic metres of soil were dug and moved to create new
and improved flood banks.