river dredging

A new round of dredging will take place on the Somerset Levels this winter after additional funding was approved – but a £144,000 flood prevention scheme in East Brent looks set to be delayed until the middle of 2023.

The Parrett Internal Drainage Board has been carrying out water injection dredging along the River Parrett and River Tone for the last few years following successful trials in late-2016.

The Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) board voted on Friday (September 16th) to grant an additional £137,000 to fund a further round of dredging this winter to protect communities on the Somerset Levels and Moors from flooding.

The SRA allocated £497,000 in its 2018/19 budget for dredging key sections of both the River Parrett and River Tone using bank-based excavators. But, following further successful trials, water injection dredging (which is carried out with a moving barge) was used instead, at a lower cost to the taxpayer.

The “substantial savings” this generated were reinvested to further dredges in 2019/20 and 2021/22, with £133,000 being left off at the end of the latter course of dredging.

To allow further dredging to take place over the winter of 2022/23, the board voted unanimously to provide a further £137,000 of funding to the internal drainage board to oversee the project.

Rob Kidson, the drainage board’s project engineer, states in his report to the board that the funding for this would come from postponing a separate small-scale improvement project in East Brent.

river dredging

He states in his report: “The East Brent asset improvement project, which received SRA local partner funding this year of £144,000, may not be deliverable in the current year.”

“As delivery partner, we are suggesting that the funds allocated are deferred to enable the winter dredging to proceed.”

“This will have a neutral effect on the overall SRA enhanced programme contingency budget at this time.”

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