New completion date expected for Beer Wall works

Somerset County Council’s flood prevention works at Beer Wall should be complete before the end of July, Somerset County Council has said today (Tuesday).

The works, which are the second phase of a key scheme to protect the A372 and increase the capacity of the River Sowy, started in April and were due to be finished at the end of June/early July. But, earlier this month, the date was pushed back into August to accommodate additional engineering.

Following more engineering design work, it is now hoped the project could be finished early in the week beginning 20 July, with a lifting of the associated closure of the A372.

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 overseen by the Somerset Rivers Authority.

“This is a large and complicated ‘design and build’ project,” explained Councillor John Osman, Chairman of the Somerset Rivers Authority and Leader of Somerset County Council. “That means an end date is especially hard to pin down as some design work is still going on while construction is underway.

“The good news is that the engineers now have plans that bring forward the expected completion date. There is always a chance this could change again and the weather could yet have an impact, but I’m delighted that things are going in the right direction.

“I know residents, businesses and commuters have been affected by the road closure and we ask for their continued patience. We want to get this finished as soon as possible, but we have to get it right because it is a key part of plan to reduce the risk of flooding on the scale seen during the winter of 2013/14.”

During the 2013/14 floods this stretch of the A372 was closed for several weeks in 2014 due to flooding and then to accommodate emergency pumping.

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. Four huge culverts are being installed under the road. Each measures an impressive 2 metres tall by 3 metres wide and will allow any future flood water to pass under the A372.

Phase 3 will be carried out by the EA and begin later 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: “We at Skanska continue to pursue every opportunity to reduce the timescale on this complex and vital piece of engineering work.  This has included and will continue to include weekend working to enable us to meet the delivery of this complex design and construction challenge.”