BRIDGWATER NEWS: Visitor attraction plans for £100m tidal barrier
A £100M tidal barrier to protect Bridgwater from flooding could also become a visitor attraction.
The Somerset Rivers Authority is working with Sedgemoor District Council and the Environment Agency (EA) to create a tidal barrier across the River Parrett by 2024.
As part of this, the council is negotiating the purchase of a vacant plot of land at the town’s Express Park, which lies between the river and the A38 Bristol Road.
Doug Bamsey, Sedgemoor council’s strategic director, said: “This land could accommodate supporting offices and a stores building, as well as potentially a future visitors’ facility.
Mr Bamsey did not provide any ball-park figure for the cost of such a facility.
The land will be purchased using money within the overall barrier project fund – meaning that there will be no additional cost to Sedgemoor taxpayers.
An update on the barrier came before a full council meeting in Bridgwater on Wednesday afternoon (July 25, 2018).
An outline business case for building the barrier – including a breakdown of the lifetime costs of the project – will be presented to the EA in September.
Formal planning applications for the barrier and related downstream defence improvements are expected to come forward in the summer of 2019, with a view to starting construction by 2022.
Mr Bamsey added: “The location of the barrier, the design and the extent of the downstream improvements to flood defences have now been broadly finalised.”
The barrier is planned to go between the Express Park and the village of Chilton Trinity, just to the north of Bridgwater.
It will consist of two vertical lift gates, each of which are 10m high by 15m wide, which will allow water to be stored and to flow downstream at a controlled rate.
Alongside the barrier itself, improvements will be made to existing flood defences and new ones will be created on the River Parrett flood plain.
The council has pledged to write a letter of support to the EA, confirming its intention to back the project and to “use all reasonable endeavours” to secure match funding.
Money towards the barrier has already been raised from developers, in the form of the community infrastructure levy (CIL) and a “flood tariff” which is levied on new development in Sedgemoor.
The council has also secured £2M from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which will be used to cover the cost of preparing the business case and associated work.
When the barrier is completed, the EA estimates that 11,300 homes and 1,500 non-residential properties will be protected from flooding.