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SOMERSET FLOODING: David Cameron announces details of flood support packages
Updated 5:39pm Thursday 20th February 2014 in News
This live event has finished
- Dredging to begin by end of March.
- Rivers Tone and Parrett to be de-silted.
SOMERSET County Council would like to remind drivers that the road through Long Load remains closed due to flooding.
It was announced yesterday that the bridge in the village had been given the all clear after an inspection by military divers.
However, although the bridge is clear to reopen, the road remains submerged under 900ml of flowing water in places and is still closed to vehicles.
The Tactical Multi Agency team, including representatives of the emergency services, Environment Agency and Highways, are monitoring the situation and will reopen the road as soon it is safe to do so once the floodwater has receded.
SOMERSET Churches Together has issued this response to the flooding in the county:
"We, the church leaders of Somerset, are thankful to the many people who have helped the people of the flooded areas of our county to endure the flooding.
These floods have shown the resilience of the communities of the Levels and the Moors.
The support of the wider farming community across the whole country has been heartening.
We wish to acknowledge those from many agencies who have worked so hard to help and support the local communities.
Flooding in the low lying areas of our county cannot be avoided. The recent flooding has resulted from unprecedented rainfall.
However the floods do not need to last as long as these have.
We believe any solutions must be based on acknowledgement that the river systems in which these problems have occurred cover most of the county of Somerset and some of Dorset.
These rivers and their catchments cannot be treated piecemeal. Rural and urban are interdependent.
We believe that there needs to be two areas in which long term integrated measures are taken:
• First, in the areas upstream of the flooded areas steps must be taken to slow down water flows. Policy makers must examine present policies for planning, crop management, drainage of both fields and housing. For example, steps could be taken to encourage tree planting and to manage periods where crop harvests lead to areas of bare earth. New building schemes should as far as possible absorb into the ground the water that falls on them.
• Second, downstream of the floods steps must be taken to increase flow capacities of rivers. Current plans for increased house and industrial building must be re-examined to ensure that they do not increase the pressure on the rivers. Restoring the flow capacities of the rivers by dredging must be done in a planned for and sustained way.
We question some of the assumptions which have limited past work.
Financial formulae determined at national level need to be re-examined to allow local situations to be taken into account.
The flooded land may be considered by some to be of low economic value. We wish it to be acknowledged that simple measures of economic value may not be entirely relevant when food production is involved.
We may not live by bread alone, but food is essential and the land and communities that produce it need to be nurtured.
Both food production and the lives and livelihoods and quality of lives of people should be the concern of all of us.
We therefore call on the government to ensure that an integrated policy for the management of the water courses of Somerset be developed which involves all stakeholders and acknowledges local conditions and needs.
In the meantime we commit our local churches to continue to help and assist all in need."
RT @AMYA_Press: 12-15 year old #AMYA volunteers from #London r fully utilising half term by helping #somersetfloods @dredgetherivers http:/…— @dredgetherivers 20 February 2014
#FLAGspotter guide to flood relief hardware: @WildImaging Tracked vehicle on Burrowbridge to Moorland road today http://t.co/cJyqOZFsr3— @dredgetherivers 20 February 2014
RT @dredgetherivers: Burrowbridge to be renamed Wheelbarrowbridge #FLAG #somersetfloods http://t.co/ojTcUGJ741— @ScienceatBucks 20 February 2014
DETAILS of new funding schemes for homeowners and businesses in floods hit areas have been announced today (Thursday) by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The schemes were launched last week by the Prime Minister as part of a comprehensive package to help homeowners and businesses in flood affected areas get back on their feet and make their properties more resilient to flooding in the future.
Support for businesses.
- Businesses that have been flooded since December 2013 will qualify for 100% business rate relief for three months, regardless of how long they were flooded.
- Government will guarantee to reimburse councils’ costs of providing 100% rate relief, enabling local authorities to start providing this relief immediately.
- The initial funding allocations to councils in flood affected areas from the new £10million Business Support Scheme have also been set out today.
- These funding allocations will enable councils to start identifying affected businesses straight away and provide emergency hardship funding.
- Business Support Scheme funding is being provided on top of business rate relief, and allows local councils to help both flooded businesses and those who have been indirectly affected through loss of trade, for example by being cut off.
Help for homeowners.
- As announced by the Prime Minister yesterday, the Government will provide up to £4million to councils to help provide people whose properties are flooded with a council tax rebate of at least three months.
- This funding guarantee to local authorities means that they can start providing this council tax relief immediately.
- The new Repair and Renewal Grants will go live from April 1 and will provide financial support for households and businesses to contribute to work that improves a property’s ability to withstand future flooding.
- Grants of up to £5,000 will be paid to flooded homeowners and businesses, once a survey to identify appropriate resilience measures has been completed. The cost of the survey is part of the grant.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This Government is continuing to take decisive action across the board to help hard-working people affected by the floods.
“We have led the immediate response through COBRA, and put in place a range of measures to help people in the longer-term.
“Today I am publishing details of how homeowners and businesses can access a range of new funding schemes which I announced over the last week.
“We are helping people who need help now and protecting communities who need protecting in the future.”
Details of the £10million fund for farmers to help restore their waterlogged land will be announced shortly.
Due to the large volumes of water this will dilute but we will manage the pumping and monitor the situation on the River Parrett #floodaware— @EnvAgencySW 20 February 2014
We are aware of dark water from pump at Stanmoor going into River Parrett likely due to sediment drawn into pumps as levels drop #floodaware— @EnvAgencySW 20 February 2014
Just been informed that 7 pumps will be run tonight at Dunball around high tide tonight at 20.00— @PirateMark_ 20 February 2014
MIGRATION advisors have seen a surge in enquiries from West Country residents looking to move down under following the recent catastrophic floods.
Paul Arthur, director of The Emigration Group said: “We've seen a big jump in enquiries from the West Country with Brits looking to escape the horrible weather by emigrating down under.
"The economies in Australia and New Zealand are booming and there's literally thousands of job opportunities for Brits who are looking to emigrate.
"Areas where there are particular skills shortage are in construction, engineering, healthcare and IT, but there are hundreds of occupations in demand down under."
"We are predicting that thousands of local people will leave the UK for a new life down under.
"Factors such as better weather, lifestyle, affordable housing and great job opportunities are an irresistible lure for Brits who maybe struggling here."
For more information and advice on migrating down under The Emigration Group is holding a seminar at the Hilton in Bristol on February 23.
To book a place or to find out more about emigrating call 01244-321414 or visit www.emigrationgroup.co.uk
THE Prime Minister was told that once the floods have gone, damaged roads will have to be repaired as quickly as possible.
Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne made the observation to David Cameron during his visit to the Somerset Flooding Summit in Bridgwater yesterday (Wednesday), which was attended by other MPs and council representatives from across the county.
Mr Browne said: “This was an ideal opportunity to raise the problems facing Somerset residents directly with the Prime Minister.
“A wider number of issues were discussed. These included the practicalities of pumping more water away, insurance cover for the victims of flooding, and the measures that can be taken to reduce the threat from flooding in the future.
“It is good that Somerset politicians are putting on a united front to tackle the flooding. The Prime Minister could see that we are working together to help local residents.
“I raised with the Prime Minister the need to mend Somerset's roads once the flood water has receded.
"Many people have been severely inconvenienced by the flood water making it harder for them to get to work or take their children to school. Once the water has gone it is essential that the damaged roads are repaired as quickly as possible.”
THE Environment Agency has just released an official statement saying dredging will begin at the end of March.
Dredging will take place on 8km of river channel where the Tone and Parrett meet at Burrowbridge. Work will start on a 200 metre long stretch of the Parrett north of Coates Farm.
It will start provided water levels drop and land is dry enough.
Floods minister Dan Rogerson said: “Today marks a crucial step forwards in ensuring local communities around the Somerset Levels are better protected from the devastating impact of floods.
“We know those affected are tired and fed-up but I can assure them we are working around the clock to clear the flood water so they can get on with their lives.
“We are also looking to the long term, and I will be chairing the next meeting of the local senior leadership group soon. We are working to agree a plan which will make communities on the levels and moors safer and protect the priceless local environment”
Paul Leinster, chief executive at the Environment Agency, added: “We plan to start dredging by the end of March, as long as the contractors deem it is safe to do so.
"We are committed to dredging as part of a broader package of work to protect people, property and land in Somerset.”
RT @robinmmorrison: Just to show how close the water is to the railway line at Athelney, Somerset @dredgetherivers @FGW http://t.co/wWaOzBj…— @greylad52 20 February 2014
RT @HigosInsurance: Our staff 'dress down' day raised a fantastic £1,500 for the @Somerset_CF Flood Relief Campaign #community @Justin_SCF— @Justin_SCF 20 February 2014
A MINI festival of bands in Taunton will raise money for victims of the flooding on the Somerset Levels.
Headline act Filtra decided to call on other acts to donate to the cause as they have spent the past two weekends recording in a studio overlooking the Levels.
Other bands at the event at the Apple and Parrot from 7.30pm on Saturday (February 22) include Crow Dawn, Blue Room Baboons and special acoustic guests.
All fees and collections will be donated to the flood cause.
RT @PirateMark_: More rock on route, 120 tons placed in hole so far. http://t.co/mn111rgYws— @dredgetherivers 20 February 2014
RT @PirateMark_: Dutch engineer now working flat out to sort issue on pump 8 amazing onsite technical support by Vanheck— @dredgetherivers 20 February 2014
PEOPLE in a Somerset community will be cheered by the announcement that a road bridge closed due to flooding is set to be reopened after military divers gave the all clear.
Long Load bridge was closed after a police officer standing on the bridge reported safety concerns.
The road leading to the bridge is also flooded making it totally inaccessible and in effect cutting off homes and businesses from communities.
Now, Royal Engineer divers with Somerset County Council experts have inspected the bridge under the fast-flowing waters and found no significant issues.
A tree trunk has been wedged under the span which will need to be cleared once the waters have receded – but other than that the bridge was found to be structurally safe.
“This is a great relief,” said council cabinet member Cllr David Hall.
“The closure has caused the local community enormous disruption, long journeys and put the village shop at risk.
“Once we can get the road approaching the bridge back open, then life for these communities can start to get back to normal.”
THE Environment Agency also plans to dredge the Rivers Tone and Parrett at Moorland House Farm.
Anyone who wishes to comment on the proposals should write to Graham Quarrier, of Manley House, Kestrel Way, Exeter EX2 7LQ.
THE move to dredge the two rivers follows a pledge from Prime Minister David Cameron after one of three visits he has made to Somerset during the flooding crisis.
The Environment Agency has been heavily criticised for not dredging for a number of years.
But agency boss Lord Smith, who was given a rough reception by locals when he visited the area recently, says the orgsanisation had insufficient funds from the Government.
People living on the Somerset Levels have called for dredging for a number of years.
THE Environment Agency has officially given notice that it proposes to dredge the Rivers Tone and Parrett following the devastating flooding on the Somerset Levels.
The Government organisation has placed a public notice in today's Somerset County Gazette outlining plans to "carry out improvement works related to flood defence on the River Tone in Somerset between Curload and Burrowbridge and on the River Parrett between Burrowbridge and Andersea".
The dredging of the channel will provide increased storage and flow in the main rivers and increase discharge of flood waters from the Moors.
The work will include excavation from the bank and cutter suction techniques and the silt removed will be spread on adjacent land where possible or removed for disposal.
The notice says: "The EA has determined that the works are likely to have significant effects on the environment and intends to prepare an environmental statement in respect of them."
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