WWT awarded £140,000 to make Bridgwater’s tidal barrier sustainable

The charity received £140,000 to help create a new sustainable tidal barrier.

The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) will help Somerset County Council deliver “environmental benefits” with a new lock at Bridgwater.

The money will be used to increase biodiversity and support wildlife.

When completed, the £128m barrier is expected to protect around 11,300 homes and 1,500 businesses from flooding.

WWT, which operates the Steart Marshes Nature Reserve at the mouth of the Parrett River and has helped create the Meads ‘ecopark’ on the west end of Bridgwater, is expected to match the £140,000 pledged by the county council through grant applications and fundraising.

The money will be used to increase biodiversity and support wildlife once the project near Express Park is completed.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, a charity in Slimbridge, it was initially commissioned over two years to “identify opportunities and projects that would improve sustainability and bring environmental benefits” around the barrier area, with the work funded by the district council.

Nick Tait, County Council Policy Manager, said: “This is a charitable organization with a strong track record and success in fundraising.”

Sedgemoor Borough Council and the Environment Agency (EA) jointly submitted proposals in December 2019 for a new barrier, with final approval given in January 2022.

Early versions of the Tidal Barrier plans, which were published in 2018, envisaged the creation of a riverside park on the west bank of the river, linking to both Express Park and Chilton Trinity via a bicycle link above the barrier.

“Delays”

While the bike link is expected to be retained – and will connect to new bike links to the city center funded by the government’s equalization fund – further details about the park have not been made public.

In December, the council agreed to donate the Express Park land to the Environment Agency to help with the construction work.

However, major construction work on the barrier was partially delayed following the discovery of asbestos near a new access road being built on Saltlands Lane.

However, Mr Tait said “detailed design work” would be completed this year, allowing construction to be speeded up in early 2024.

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