No room for lock at Somerset tidal barrier

IWA condemns the ‘short-sighted’ refusal to leave space for a lock by new Somerset tidal barrier on River Parrett.

A tidal barrier on the River Parrett at Bridgwater in Somerset is a key part of a 20 Year Flood Action Plan developed after the 2014 Somerset Levels flooding. It would have two vertical lift gates to allow water to be stored and to flow downstream at a controlled rate, or to prevent very high tides travelling upstream and overtopping defences. When the barrier is completed, the EA estimates that 11,300 homes and 1,500 non-residential properties will be protected from flooding.

River Parrett at Bridgewater by Julian Gibson

River Parrett at Bridgewater by Julian Gibson

The IWA West Country Branch has been running a campaign for nearly three years with the principal aim of making the best use of the proposed tidal barrier to enhance navigation on the River Parrett through using the barrier to pen water on certain occasions during the boating season. The campaign includes promoting the regeneration of Bridgwater Docks and restoring the Barge Lock and Bascule Bridge to reconnect the River Parrett with the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. This will potentially make a longer route available for navigation, with all the leisure, recreation, tourism and economic benefits that this can bring. Although the number of occasions that the Tidal Barrier will be closed will be modest to begin with EA’s projections show that as sea levels rise over the lifetime of the barrier it is likely be closed to navigation over 60 times a year.

A bypass channel is to be constructed to divert the flow of the River Parrett whilst the main tidal barrier structure is built on the existing river bed. More than three years ago the IWA requested that Sedgemoor District Council (SDC) and the Environment Agency (EA) retain some of the bypass channel land-take in public ownership to enable future construction of a lock and approach channels, intended for boats to use when the barrier is closed to navigation. A formal request for the land to be reserved as part of the Tidal Barrier Scheme was included in IWA’s response to the Preliminary Environmental Information Report, submitted to EA on 18 September 2017.

IWA has now been informed that a recent meeting of the Project Board identified a number of impediments to reserving the land, leading to a decision not to include the reservation of the relevant land within the Scheme. IWA believes that these issues could and should have been identified, addressed and resolved by EA over the last two years and that EA should now urgently rectify its failures to deal with these in a timely manner. No mention of these issues has previously been made by EA despite numerous opportunities to raise them at the various meetings that have been held, leading IWA and Bridgwater Town Council to assume no other issues existed.

Ivor Caplan, IWA Chairman, comments: “As an organisation, IWA campaigns for all users of the waterways to receive the maximum benefit from our canals, rivers and linked tidal estuaries, both now and in the future. Operation of the proposed Bridgwater Tidal Barrier is expected to increase significantly over its lifetime and will have an increasing effect on the established right of navigation on the River Parrett. IWA believes that the decision to refuse the request to reserve land to enable the future construction of a lock within the Bypass Channel as part of the Tidal Barrier scheme is a short-sighted decision by the Project Board and should be reversed.”

Mick Lerry, Bridgwater Town Councillor, comments: “Bridgwater Town Council, along with IWA, believed that there were no further concerns relating to this request and that the reservation of the land was fully achievable. It is very disappointing to hear that the Project Board has decided not to reserve the land needed for the future construction of a lock and approach channels as part of the Scheme. This decision will have a negative impact on our local area and goes against all our plans for future-proofing the region.”

Information and graphics from Public Consultation documents and IWA press release.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

Facebook | Twitter

About | Terms | Privacy| Refunds & Returns| Sitemap | Contact Us

With over 800 pages, this website uses cookies to record visitor behaviour using Google Analytics. More information on Privacy Page. Page last updated: 30/09/2019.