Strategic Flood Protection
Planned growth – housing, employment sites and town centre regeneration - in Taunton can continue, provided measures are put in place to deal with potential flood risks.
Taunton Deane Borough Council has commissioned an in-depth study from specialists Jeremy Benn Associates (JBA) to look at the current and long term (100 years) future flood risk in Taunton, taking account of the proposed town centre developments, planned housing growth and the long term effects of climate change. It makes clear that the developments would not adversely affect the Somerset Levels and Moors downstream on the River Tone.
It examines a number of options for managing flood risk over the next century, including raised flood defences through Taunton town centre, a range of upstream flood storage proposals and ideas to improve river flow through the town centre. The report makes it clear that “doing nothing” is not an option. The report concludes that a combination of measures to manage flood risk are required, with the priority being the construction - by 2026 - of a large flood storage area upstream of Taunton, near Bradford-on-Tone.
Similar to Taunton’s Longrun Meadow scheme but much larger in scale, the storage area would be dry most of the time and could be maintained for agriculture. In times of flood, the storage area would have the capacity to hold approximately 1.8 million cubic metres of water - the Millennium Dome would have a capacity of around 1.5 million cubic metres. Stored water would be released into the River Tone in a controlled and gradual fashion, reducing peak water levels during a severe flood. That in turn could benefit the Levels and Moors downstream.
The cost of the priority option is estimated at £12-16 million. Potential funding sources could include the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Environment Agency (EA) and contributions from developments such as New Homes Bonus and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
The report also looks into the planned development in the town centre and urban extensions to Taunton and concludes that these developments can go head in the short term, provided appropriate on-site flood mitigation measures are taken and that a long term approach comprising the recommended options for managing flood risk is adopted.
The benefits from the approach recommended include improved flood protection of at least 1300 additional properties and business premises in the town centre and the regeneration of key sites such as Firepool, Coal Orchard and Tangier. The proposals in the report form a key part of the Somerset Levels and Moors Action Plan, drawn up in the wake of the floods last winter. Taunton Deane Borough Council is working closely with other authorities and agencies involved in the plan.
The JBA report can be found in Community Scrutiny Papers. Taunton Strategic Flood Risk Management Phase 1
Flood FAQ's - A summary of Frequently Asked Questions.