Parrett Estuary Flood Risk Management Strategy
This document dated February 2009 is pleasing in that it
shows that thought is being given to possible future problems.
The range of strategy objectives and the proposed management
options are interesting. Sadly it seems that a great deal
of effort is proposed while worthwhile options are not considered.
Clearly no-one could deny the importance of maintaining the
current coastal defences and the need to improve those defences
to cope with projected climate changes. However, rather than
merely holding the line with a possible barrier in the future,
could not a range of improvements be planned to achieve the
same result while also generating work for years to come?
A barrier across the river Parrett just upstream from Dunball
could carry a trunk road westward to link with the A39 just
south of Cannington (labelled as across the floodplain to
the higher ground to the south-east of Cannington - near the
sewage works). Much of Bridgwater would be protected from
tidal flooding. Assuming that the barrier was used in a similar
manner to the barriers on the rivers Axe and Brue, flooding
caused by runoff from the surrounding hills would be reduced.
It would be possible to build a turbine into the barrier
to generate electridity that could be sold to provide funds
to offset maintenance and other costs. The trunk road atop
the embankment would provide a much-needed swift link between
the motorway system, north Somerset and north Devon. The barrier
would provide a pleasant permanent waterfront for Bridgwater
offering valuable boating and freshwater angling for residents
and visitors. It should be possible to connect this extended
freshwater facility to the existing canal and rivers to create
a system to rival the Norfolk Broads.
Moving onto the Pawlett Hams, the suggestion that this land,
hard won by our forebears, should be allowed to becomne salt-marsh
is scarcely credible. Surely if much now high ground can be
created at nearby Walpole, the same landfill system could
be used to build new higher sea defences while meeting the
area's rubbish disposal needs for many years. The extended
landfill could provide a steady supply of methane which again
could be a valuable resource while a road on top would fgive
swift access to the sea defences in times of threat.
After the barrier and higher seawalls were installed it might
be possible to divert silt laden storm runoff into settling
lagoons sited on lower ground. After the silt had settled,
the clear water could be carefully returned to the river.
This would steadily build up the low ground with rich silt
and may improve the water quality of the Bridgwater Bay with
benefits for the bathers at the district's only coastal resort.
John H. Tanner 15/02/09
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