'Forgotten villages' fear amid Shrewsbury flood defence plans

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image copyrightShropshire Council
image captionThe proposed relief road aims to ease traffic in and around Shrewsbury

A dam will no longer be created under plans for a new relief road despite being designed amid fears over rising river levels.

The structure - dubbed a "water retaining embankment" - was set for Shrewsbury's North West Relief Road due to be built by 2024.

The council says new plans replace it with a viaduct across the River Severn.

Some flood campaigners said they had been concerned over the embankment and the impact it could have on villages.

But while the dam plan has fallen off the road scheme, similar measures, according to the Environment Agency (EA), could still emerge.

The £75m relief road will link the town's northern end to the western point and ease congestion, according to the local authority.

Shropshire Council said it hopes to begin construction on the road in 2022.

News of the change comes a year after the county was hit by floods during Storm Dennis, with the village of Pentre, north of Shrewsbury, among the areas badly affected.

image captionCampaigner Julia Maidment said she would be in discussion with agencies

Julia Maidment, chairman of the Pentre and Edgerley Flood Action Group, said her home was blighted in 2020 and had concerns an embankment built north of Shrewsbury could exacerbate problems upstream where she lived.

"If you create a solution for somewhere it just very often pushes the problem somewhere else so I know a lot of people are not happy that the smaller villages obviously seem to get forgotten in that," she said.

"As part of the flood action group, we will be in discussions with the various flood agencies, so my personal hope is that [the embankment] doesn't happen."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionShrewsbury was badly affected by flooding in February 2020

In July, the River Severn Partnership secured about £40m for flood defences along the river.

Matt Johnson, Shropshire Council's executive manager for strategic projects, said plans for the road had been due to be submitted in July, but were put on hold while the authority considered the implications of funding for the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme.

But he said the application would now be for a "road scheme only" including "a viaduct across the River Severn and its flood plain at Shelton instead of an extended embankment design" as proposed last year.

He added the council would continue to work with the River Severn Partnership and the Environment Agency to explore potential flood defence schemes.

Adam Lines, from the EA, said the group was looking at other locations for storing flood water, and other options across the whole river catchment, with the aim of making it more resilient to climate change.

Options, he said, included flood walls and embankments, or natural solutions that slow the flow of water like tree planting.

He said the EA would be engaging with communities throughout the year so they could share their views, with plans to share further proposals early next year.

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