The large-scale flood defence project has reached a major milestone after its Transport Works Act Order (TWAO) was finalised and submitted to the table of the Secretary of State last 20 December.
The large-scale project involves the erection of a tidal barrier across the River Parrett north of Bridgwater, protecting the market town from high water levels that could flood properties and infrastructure.
Once finished by 2024, the barrier can protect at least 1,500 businesses and 11,300 properties from the effects of climate change. Downstream from the planned barrier, existing flood defences on the banks of the River Parrett would also be improved. This is to ensure the effectiveness of the barrier (e.g. no bypassing occurs) and to prevent flooding other locations.
The TWAO is required due to navigation restrictions applied to the River Parrett. Because of this, members of the public, especially affected stakeholders, can now officially manifest their objections or concerns regarding the plans to the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.
The TWAO document submission will be publicly available at strategic locations for eight weeks. Locations include the Bridgwater Library, Somerset West and Taunton Council offices, South Somerset District Council offices, and the Environment Agency office in East Quay Bridgwater. Any parties are enjoined to comment so that these may be considered by the Secretary of State as they finalise their decision whether to grant or dismiss the order.
If there are notable or concerning comments, the minister may call for a general public inquiry prior to making a decision.
The Environment Agency, Sedgemoor District Council, along with the support given by the Somerset Rivers Authority, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government are also supporting and are involved in the project.