Severnside flood defence scheme approved
NEW flood defences for the Severn Estuary have been approved – despite claims they are “excessive” and will cause the unnecessary destruction of trees and hedgerows.
South Gloucestershire Council has approved its half of a major project to protect the Avonmouth Severnside Enterprise Area and its neighbouring communities from flooding, including new sea walls and embankments as well as the creation of new wetland areas for wading birds.
The entire project will stretch from Aust cliffs to Avonmouth docks when finished, straddling South Gloucestershire and Bristol.
Bristol City Council has already given its permission for the southern half of the scheme, which is also backed by the Environment Agency, despite claims by the Bristol Port Company that a 100m gap in the flood wall at Avonmouth puts lives at risk.
A South Gloucestershire planning committee approved the northern section from Severn Beach to Aust on February 7.
A map showing the areas covered by the flood defence scheme
Members heard the entire project is expected to create 12,000 new jobs and add £2.9 billion to the local economy.
But resident and engineer Mike Harrison said the new 10.84m sea embankment planned between New Passage and Aust was much taller and wider than it needed to be. He said it could still do its job at less cost to the taxpayer if it was narrower and steeper, which would “eradicate the need to destroy 500 mature trees and 4,000 meters of hedgerow which provide diverse wildlife habitats”.
Lisa Presland, who started a petition to save the trees, also spoke at the meeting, while Peter Tyzack, of Pilning and Severn Beach Parish Council, said members were concerned expert advice had not been sought “on matters relating to sea level rise, coastal defence and the dynamics of the estuary”.
But members voted by 6 to 2 in favour of the scheme after a report recommended it, with officers concluding: “The substantial public, domestic and economic benefit is such that the appropriately mitigated adverse impacts are outweighed.”
Main picture: Lisa Presland in front of some of the trees which will be felled as part of the flood defence scheme