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FLOOD PREVENTION: How can the A39 over Exmoor be stopped from flooding?

FLOOD PREVENTION: How can the A39 over Exmoor be stopped from flooding?

Plans are being made to prevent the main road over Exmoor from being flooded in the future – with help coming from an unlikely source.

The National Trust is making improvements to various watercourses in the Porlock Vale as part of its ‘Riverlands’ project, designed to encourage wildlife, remove non-native species and tackle localised flooding.

As part of the project, the charity is looking at ways to slow the flow of the River Aller, which regularly floods a section of the A39 between Minehead and Porlock within the national park.

The Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) will be helping to design a scheme to achieve this, working with local farmers to re-wild large sections of land upstream of Allerford and protect around 100 homes in the process.

Brief details of the proposals were published ahead of a virtual meeting of the SRA board on Friday morning (March 5).

A spokesman said: “The National Trust’s Riverlands project in Porlock Vale is developing innovative approaches to working with natural processes.

“At Tivington Farm in the upper catchment of the River Aller, it is proposed to restore and re-naturalise 125 hectares. Re-connecting ditches and headwater tributaries to their floodplain will slow the flow of water.

“This will help to reduce flood risks for nearly 100 properties downstream in places including Allerford and Bossington.

“It will help to reduce regular flooding of the A39 between Porlock and Minehead, and to protect several B-roads and smaller lanes.

“It will also substantially benefit wildlife and the local landscape and environment.”

The River Aller flows under the A39 near the Holnicote Estate run by the trust, flowing through Allerford and Bossington before entering the Bristol Channel via Porlock Bay.

The National Trust has secured funding for the Riverlands project from the Environment Agency and the European Union’s Interreg2Seas programme.

The SRA is expected to provide match funding to cover the design and modelling work within its annual budget of around £2.9M.

A spokesman for the National Trust said: “The work includes helping to slow the flow of water and alleviate flooding, repairing banks, creating new habitats and tackling the rise of invasive non-native species.

“We’ll also be working with local communities to help them rediscover and reconnect with their rivers – as spaces for leisure and activity, to socialise, or simply take a walk beside the water and clear their minds.

“We’re already hard at work to reverse the fortunes of our rivers.”

Words: Daniel Murphy, Local Democracy Reporter


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