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Flood prevention: Committee visits the Somerset levels

12 May 2016

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee visits the Somerset Levels on Thursday 12 May as part of its inquiry into Future flood prevention. Large areas of the Somerset Levels experienced flooding in 2013-14 with some parts affected for many months.

During the visit, the Committee is meeting the Environment Agency and local partners in Taunton to find out what has been done to better prepare Somerset for future severe weather and to minimise flood risk. MPs also hear about progress the Somerset Rivers Authority is making to prevent a recurrence of events of two years ago.

MPs then visit areas around the Levels to see Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Board channel maintenance and land management work on the ground.

Chair's comment

Commenting ahead of the visit, the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Neil Parish MP said:

"As a Committee, we feel it is important to be able to get behind the headlines of news stories and to see on the ground how the people of Somerset have managed, and in some cases are still managing, the effect of major flooding to their homes and businesses.

We want to see and hear for ourselves how the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Boards and councils are working together to reduce the risk of future floods and the burdens these place on local people. The experiences of people here in Somerset will provide valuable insights into what our committee should be telling Government to do at national level, to help all communities in the country at risk of flooding."


In January this year, following severe winter floods in parts of the UK, the EFRA committee announced an inquiry on future flood prevention. The Committee called for written evidence on the following topics:

  • Predicting the future: Are the Environment Agency and Met Office models that predict rainfall patterns and the likelihood of future floods fit for purpose - and do they correctly calculate the costs of future flooding to communities?
  • Protecting communities and infrastructure: How adequately do defences protect communities and agricultural land from floods and do current funding arrangements target spending in the right way?
  • Managing water flows: How effectively do Defra and the Environment Agency's policies encourage innovative approaches to managing risk such as slowing the flow of water in urban and rural river catchment areas and promoting water storage?
  • Planning for floods: How well do planning policies ensure new buildings are not put in areas of high flood risk nor where they would increase risk to others – and how well do new developments incorporate sustainable drainage and flood-resilient buildings?

Written evidence received is available to view on the Committee's inquiry publications page.

Further information

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