Blockage means flood risk

HOMES, businesses and acres of farmland could be left under water because a £5million scheme to shore up North Somerset's coastal

HOMES, businesses and acres of farmland could be left under water because a £5million scheme to shore up North Somerset's coastal sea defences has been put on hold.The Environment Agency had planned to start a multi-million pound project to strengthen the leaking sea defences at Kingston Seymour, but has had to delay the project for at least two years.The hold up has come because of a new Severn Estuary Strategy which is currently being drawn up by the Environment Agency's south west, Midlands and Wales regions.Any new flood defence works have to fit into the strategy - but the blueprint is not due to be finalised for two years.Environment Agency chiefs have confirmed that any low lying areas between Clevedon and Sand Bay, Weston-super-Mare, were at risk from flooding as a result of the poor sea defences and described Kingston Seymour as 'the weakest link'.Councillor Bob Cook, who represents North Somerset Council on the region's flood defence committee, says if high tides happen at the same time as bad weather, the defences could be easily breached.Councillor Cook said: "Most of Kingston Seymour lies below sea level and could be under water if the worst happened."I went down to check the sea wall at the last high tide and the water was lapping over it."If it is bashed by high tides and winds and bad weather I am very concerned the wall could collapse with very serious consequences."Environment Agency spokesman Bridget Norris said: "The scheme which we are proposing in Kingston Seymour involves creating earth banks on the estuary side of the Congresbury Yeo."This is currently on hold because of the Severn Estuary Strategy which is being worked on so there won't be any immediate progress on the Kingston Seymour scheme."This is extremely frustrating for us and our officers who have been working on the project as we want work to start as soon as possible.""There is a risk of flooding because there is seepage through the sea wall."However if there was a breach then we would carry out emergency repairs regardless of the hold up."The Environment Agency has already spent £3.2 million on strengthening Clevedon's sea defences at Marshall's Bank and the Land Yeo outfall.

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