Somerset Level's flood pumps 'costing £1m a month'

Dutch water pumps on the Somerset Levels High-capacity Dutch-supplied pumps have been working beside the River Parrett

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Fuel for emergency pumps being used to reduce water levels in parts of flooded Somerset is costing close to £1 m a month, MPs have been told.

Dozens of pumps have been sent to the Levels in the biggest pumping operation ever undertaken in the county.

The pumps - including some from The Netherlands - were brought in by the Environment Agency.

It has been suggested the bill was a sign the failure to dredge local rivers was a false economy.

Henry Cator, chairman of the Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA) said: "The cost of inaction is very high too."

He told a Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee hearing: "I think the bill for diesel for the temporary pumps is running at £200,000 per week."

'Flooded again'

Dredging of heavily-silted parts of the rivers Tone and Parrett is due to start next month.

Tony Bradford, a farmer and member of the ADA executive committee in the South West, said the dredging must take place quickly to prevent far worse damage in the summer.

"What worries us now is that if we have an inch-and-a-half or two inches of rain, we're flooded," he told the committee.

"What has happened now is in the winter, but you imagine this four months on: we have a flash thunderstorm, which is quite likely, and we could be flooded again.

"If we get flooded in the summer, the implications of that is a hundred times worse than what we've got now."

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