Over 30 residents attended a Wessex Water consultation session in Highbridge on Monday (20th January) where several concerns were raised about the company’s new £1.8m project to protect local homes from sewer flooding.

Wessex Water hosted a drop-in session at King Alfred School where its staff were on hand to answer questions.

As first reported here by Burnham-On-Sea.com, the project will reduce the risk of flooding in and around Highbridge’s Field Way after a new surface water pumping station and pipework are installed.

The work will require the Worston Lane footpath/cycle path to be closed for six months, along with a section of Pepperall Road, from February. Diversions will be in place, including for pedestrians and cyclists accessing King Alfred School fields.

While a majority of residents welcomed the work during Monday’s drop-in session, several people raised concerns about the cycle path diversion route having an adverse impact on traffic flows, plus access to the footpath, and also the impact on nesting birds of removing shrubs.

Talking to Burnham-On-Sea.com at the event, a spokesman said: “We have taken on board the comments about the cycle path and will be following them up with our highways team to look at the best way to deal with traffic.”

“There were concerns that the footpath along Pepperall would be closed during the work, but in fact it will be open at all times.”

Asked how the closure will affect the school and public transport routes, the firm says: “We have been in close liaison with the school and will ensure everyone is informed.”

The firm was also asked whether waste and recycling collections will be affected. Wessex Water says: “Somerset County Council will be contacting Somerset Waste Partnership with full details of the closures to ensure they can plan accordingly.”

The company was also asked whether emergency vehicles will be able to get through the closure – Wessex Water says they won’t, but adds that the services will be informed so they can plan around it.

The spokesman added: “Another resident was concerned about our planned shrub clearance affecting bird nesting sites, but we reassured her that the work will go ahead before the main nesting season in close conjunction with our environmental team. We will be removing 20-30 metres of vegetation and then replanting it later in the project.”

It adds: “The road, cycle path and footway closures are essential to carry out the works safely and we’re sorry for any inconvenience this will cause.”

“We’ll do everything we can to minimise disruption and complete work as quickly as possible.”

The project is being funded by Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) and Somerset County Council, plus Wessex Water. As a partner on the scheme, SRA is using Government Growth Deal funds from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

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