Major incident declared in Somerset over ‘concerning’ flood risks - which areas have warnings?

The Environment Agency described the move as “precautionary” and is working to “protect people and properties”

A major incident has been declared in Somerset over flooding risks in the county, the Environment Agency has announced.

The agency on Wednesday (18 January) described the move as “precautionary” and said the risk is a “concern to those who have suffered from flooding before”.

Three additional pumps began working at Northmoor pumping station in Somerset on Tuesday evening (17 January) to reduce the amount of water being stored until river levels allow pumping to resume at Currymoor, which remains full.

The agency is also responding to flood risk in the Bristol Avon area and monitoring rising groundwater levels in Dorset.

In 2014 hundreds of homes were affected by flooding on the Somerset Levels, which saw large parts of the area spend the majority of winter underwater.

Ian Withers, from the Environment Agency, said: “The sight of water on the Somerset Levels and Moors is obviously a concern to those who have suffered from flooding before. Our staff continue to work to the best of their abilities to protect people and properties, install pumps and engage with communities.

“The situation is expected to improve when enhanced pumping begins and we continue to run the Sowy flood relief channel. It is prudent to plan for the worst and going into major incident mode is appropriate, so we coordinate with partners and everyone is ready to respond if needed.”

Bill Revans, leader of Somerset County Council, added: “The decision to declare a major incident at this stage means we are well placed to respond. We will be supporting Environment Agency colleagues on the ground and taking every step to ensure our communities receive the help they need.”

Which locations have flood warnings?

Additional pumps are in operation at Saltmoor and Northmoor to reduce levels as much as possible when the River Parrett has capacity, the Environment Agency said. Extra pumps are also ready for use at Currymoor once conditions allow, it added.

When the water level reduces at Currymoor, Athelney spillway will stop flowing into Northmoor as well as the A361 between East Lyng and Burrowbridge. There is currently a flood warning for that area and the road is closed.

A flood warning has also been issued for Saltmoor and Northmoor. Environment Agency officers travelled to the village of Moorland on Tuesday to meet residents.

Water is being diverted to the Sowy flood relief channel and King’s Sedgmoor Drain to Dunball, where pumps are being installed to allow pumping to continue in the event of a high tide.

Residents have been urged to check their flood risk and told not to drive through floodwater.