MP calls for swift action on Exmoor rivers to prevent future flood damage

MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has called on the Environment Agency to start a comprehensive clean-up of Exmoor rivers following months of exceptional rainfall. He says leaving river beds littered with trees and other debris washed out by floodwaters could be storing up problems for next winter.

As an example the Bridgwater and West Somerset MP has cited the River Exe in Exford where locals fear stones that are accumulating upstream of the village centre bridge could soon start to impede flows when water levels are high. But he said the course of every river across the moor should be checked and cleared in the window provided by the summer months.

“I am writing to the agency requesting a start on the problem at Exford as soon as possible but I know from reports reaching me that there are other similar issues at locations across the national park,” he said. “The nature of Exmoor rivers is such that they are prone to rising rapidly whenever there is heavy rain so as we move into a era where rainfall is becoming heavier and more localised it is vital every effort is made to keep water courses clear and running well.

“History can provide us with far too many examples of what happens when trees, branches and other debris are left uncleared: the material acts as a temporary dam and when that gives way the force of the released water can cause significant structural damage to bridges and river defences. Investing in a clearance programme now could save us from massively costly damage when the storms return - as they undoubtedly will.”