The £100m Bridgwater Tidal Barrier – designed to protect some 13,000 homes and businesses from tidal flooding – is one step nearer. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), George Eustice, approved the Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO), which was submitted in December 2019 and grants powers to construct and operate the barrier.
- The tidal barrier, a partnership project between the Environment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council, will feature two moveable gates on the River Parrett between Express Park and Chilton Trinity in Bridgwater.
- In addition, new flood defence embankments and improvements to existing embankments will be constructed on the River Parrett downstream of the barrier.
- New eel and fish passes will be installed at up to 12 sites upstream on the rivers Parrett and Tone.
Rachel Burden, Wessex Flood and Coastal Risk Manager at the Environment Agency said: “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.”
Cllr Duncan McGinty, Leader of Sedgemoor District Council said: “All partners have been working for many years on the preparations for this major engineering project and we are delighted that we are now one step closer to start of construction.”
Cllr David Hall, Chair of Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA), said: “This is great news. Before Somerset’s 20 Year Flood Action Plan was drawn up during the floods of 2014, the expected date for a Barrier in Bridgwater was 2046. The Flood Action Plan called for faster delivery by 2024. To help achieve that, the SRA has so far contributed £2.3million, including £2million of Growth Deal funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership. It’s fantastic to see such a big, important project moving ahead.”
The go-ahead for the barrage is hugely exciting news, says Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger. And he has praised the teamwork which has finally brought the project to fruition, saying: “The barrage has been occupying the skills and abilities of a great many people since it was first mooted in the wake of the disastrous floods in 2014.
“It is obviously a highly complex scheme and quite understandably concerns about its potential impact have been raised in some quarters. But those concerns have been taken into account as have the many, many messages of support for the barrage that have been received.
“I have been greatly impressed with the way all the agencies involved have co-operated as a team in driving forward a project which is going to protect Bridgwater and the local area for many, many years to come. I admire their energy and their enthusiasm – and their determination to formulate a response to the ever-present threat of flooding.
“The barrage will help to reduce that threat well into the foreseeable future and I know its construction will be very warmly welcomed by thousands of local families.”
Over the next eighteen months the detailed technical design of the scheme will be developed and further topographic, ecology surveys and ground investigations will be carried out. It is hoped that the construction site will be set up in late 2022, to allow for construction to start in early 2023 after various approvals and consents are granted.