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John Tanner's ideas:
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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