Bridgwater tidal barrier

One of England’s biggest flood defence schemes, a tidal barrier across the River Parrett south of Burnham-On-Sea, is to go ahead.

Bridgwater’s £100m tidal barrier over the River Parrett in Chilton Trinity will have two vertical lifting gates to prevent water from travelling upstream.

It will protect about 13,000 homes and 1,500 businesses from coastal changes.

Environment Secretary George Eustice has just approved the project, two years after plans were first submitted.

The Treasury agreed to provide an extra £28m for contingency, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Sedgemoor District Council leader Duncan McGinty says he is “delighted” that the scheme will be going ahead.

The proposals for the barrier, near to the Chilton Trinity Enterprise Park, were put forward by the district council and the Environment Agency (EA) in December 2019.

The barrier’s two vertical lifting gates will be closed at very high tides to prevent water from overwhelming existing flood defences upstream.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2023 but it may not be full operational until 2027, three years later than was originally hoped.

Rachel Burden, the Environment Agency’s Wessex flood and coastal risk manager, says: “This is a significant milestone for one of the biggest flood defence schemes in the country.”

“This decision gives real confidence that the barrier is well on the way to be delivered and will help the town of Bridgwater and surrounding areas be ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change – today, tomorrow and past the year 2100.”

Prior to the announcement, Ms Burden suggested it would take six months for the Government to provide the list of conditions for construction workers to abide by, potentially holding up the start of the build, which was originally planned for early next year.

The barrier was included as one of the main projects within the Bridgwater town deal, with £22.6m provided by central government for numerous initiatives to protect and enhance the town centre.

Nathaniel Lucas, the council’s service manager for economic development, said £2m would be released from that fund to go towards “walking and cycling provision associated with the infrastructure project”.

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