Beer Wall flood defences taking shape

Giant culverts 2

Major works to help reduce flooding on the Somerset Levels are continuing to progress with four huge concrete culverts now in place.

The culverts, which are part of the second phase of works at Beer Wall, each measure an impressive 2 metres tall by 3 metres wide and will allow any future flood water to pass under the A372.

This stretch of the A372 was closed for several weeks in 2014 due to flooding and then to accommodate emergency pumping. The Beer Wall scheme is being carried out by the Council’s contractor Skanska as part of the multi-agency 20 Year Flood Action Plan which is now being overseen by the Somerset Rivers Authority.

Work started on 7 April and it was hoped it could be completed in three months. However, the completion date has been put back until early August due to the need for some unexpected additional engineering work.

Cllr John Osman, Chairman of the Somerset Rivers Authority and Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “This is an important scheme to reduce the risk of future flooding and prevent the widespread disruption we witnessed back in 2014. I’m pleased to see it taking shape and know that a huge amount of work has been done already.

“We are of course disappointed that the completion date has changed but it is important that we get this project right first time. As we have said from the start, with a complex design and build scheme of this nature unfortunately we can never be completely sure how long work will take, even once work is underway.

“We apologise for the inconvenience for motorists and local communities keen to see this route reopened, but hope people understand how important this scheme is. Please be assured that we will be doing everything we can to complete this work as soon as possible.”

As well as keeping the A372 open, the three-stage Beer Wall scheme is designed to reduce flood risk in the Sowy and Kings Sedgemoor Drain river systems.

Phase 1, which was completed before Christmas, involved raising a section of the A372, cutting through the road to accommodate two of the culverts, and installing a temporary bridge to keep the road open through the winter.

Phase 2, which is now underway, will see a second section cut through the road, installing four culverts and building a permanent road built over the top of them.

Phase 3 will be carried out by the EA and begin in the summer. This will see the Langacre Rhyne and part of the River Sowy diverted through the new culverts to increase the capacity of the system.

Simon White, Business Director at Skanska, said: “The works at Beer Wall Phase 2 are progressing very well with over 8,000 man hours worked and 52 of the culvert units, each weighing 13 tonnes, already installed.

“However, we have taken the decision with Somerset County Council to include some additional works that will add to the long term durability of the structure.

“We feel this is very important based on how vital the structure is to future flood protection across the Levels but unfortunately it will require us to keep the road closed a little longer. We are acutely aware of the impact the road closure has on road users and the community and we thank everyone for their patience while we deliver this important piece of flood infrastructure.”

Giant culverts 4