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Wetlands creation just ‘tinkering’, says MP

PEOPLE are being asked to donate to a charity whose efforts at flood mitigation amount to no more than tinkering with the problem, MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has warned.

He says no one should be under any illusion that small-scale schemes such as those carried out near Williton, in West Somerset, can provide anything more than partial protection against a heightened flood risk.

The schemes have been put in place by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust with the support of landowners along the Doniford and Monksilver streams.

Officials say the combination of ponds, dams and tree planting should help protect Williton from serious flooding by slowing the run-off of rain in both catchments.

New wetlands

The charity now wants to create 100,000 hectares of new wetlands across the country and has already raised £800,000 through its Christmas appeal to help fund the work.

The charity acknowledges that mitigation schemes alone cannot protect against flooding but says a multitude of small projects ‘might help’ alleviate the problem.

But, said Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, people were being persuaded to donate to a programme of works which at best would bring only minimal improvements.

He said: “Given the way weather patterns are changing as the planet warms up tinkering around with schemes such as this is really not going to make a scrap of difference.

“As scientists predicted entirely accurately we are now in an era where we shall see heavier and more localised rainfall, which is why flooding problems are cropping up in all kinds of places where historically there have rarely, if ever been any.

Heightened risk

“It is clear from its situation at the confluence of two streams draining from high ground Williton is facing a heightened flood risk. But when the rains arrive, as they certainly will, I do not believe these mitigation schemes will save a single house from flooding.

“And the more Somerset West and Taunton council continues merrily dishing out planning consents for building on flood plains in and around Williton the more home-owners we shall have living under the constant threat of serious inundation.

“We have to stop throwing up new homes on vulnerable sites and we have to start looking to put in place sensible, practical hard defences to protect existing properties – however much it costs.”

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