Published on Jan 27, 2014
The government is to send in the army to help tackle the floods in the Somerset Levels.
The Ministry of Defence is to deploy equipment and manpower to help those in affected areas by delivering food, transporting people and distributing sandbags.
An MoD spokeswoman said : “We have tonight deployed military planners to help Somerset county council determine what support they might need.”
She added they would be in the county overnight to assess what was required in time for first light on Thursday…
The Liberal Democrat MP David Heath had protested that an area the size of Bristol had been flooded for a month.
Tackled on the issue during prime minister’s questions, Cameron said he was urgently exploring what else could be done.
“We now need to move more rapidly to the issues like dredging, which I think will help to make a long-term difference,” he said. …
“The Environment Agency is pumping as much water as is possible given the capacity of the rivers around the Levels,” he said, “but I have ordered that further high-volume pumps from the DCLG’s [Department for Communities and Local Government's] national reserve will be made available to increase the volume of the pumping operation as soon as there is capacity in the rivers to support that.
“We are urgently exploring what further help the government can give local residents to move around and I rule nothing out in the days ahead to get this problem sorted.”
It is not yet clear where the £4m necessary to restart the dredging is coming from, as the government has not offered any extra funds to Somerset. A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the funding had not yet been worked out.
“Dredging will be carried out in the Somerset Levels as soon as it is safe and practical to do so,” she said. “We are in discussions with the Environment Agency to start planning the details. We are also working with the local community to produce an action plan looking at all the different options for managing flood risk there over the next 20 years.”
Some residents in the area are furious that the Environment Agency stopped dredging the rivers years ago and have accused it of failing to keep up proper river maintenance. It is thought that about 40% of the capacity of the rivers Tone and Parrett could be clogged up with silt.
…”It’s understandable that those affected by flooding are calling for more action, [but] dredging would not have prevented the flooding in Somerset,” she said”There needs to be a much wider programme of flood prevention to protect people’s homes in the future, and other measures, such as capturing water upstream in lower-risk areas, are likely to be more effective than dredging.”…