New £2m dredging of River Parrett stretch starts

Dredging work downstream of Northmoor and the M5 near Taunton (May 2016)
Image caption Some 14,000 cubic metres of silt will be removed along the 750m stretch of the River Parrett

Dredging has begun on a stretch of the River Parrett at cost of £2.1m to prevent future flooding on the Somerset Levels.

In October, Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) approved the funding for the work downstream of Northmoor and the M5.

SRA chairman John Osman, said: "It is that little more expensive to do that section but it will be the most beneficial."

The work is expected to take around 12 weeks to complete.

In 2014, some 8km of the rivers Parrett and Tone were dredged at a cost of £6m.

Reduce 'duration'

Mr Osman added: "If we have the same amount of water that we had a couple of years ago the dredging we do today will reduce the amount of water on the land by about 80mm.

"It will also reduce the duration of the flooding, so it will take five days off the flooding event if the same amount of water came again."

The SRA is still lobbying the government to allow it to become a precepting authority which would allow it to levy a portion of the council tax to help pay for its work.

For this financial year, the government approved a one-off flood levy for Somerset taxpayers.

"Putting up the council tax for one year was not the best solution and is not a long-term solution," said Mr Osman.

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