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Key SRA facts

About Somerset Rivers Authority history, partners and finance.

This section about the SRA is provided for information. You can Have your say in sections 3 to 6.

Origins of SRA

The idea for Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) arose during the winter floods of 2013-14, the wettest winter for 250 years. Around 150km2 of the Somerset Levels were submerged for weeks: 165 homes were flooded, 7,000 businesses affected, 81 roads closed. The cost to Somerset was estimated as being up to £147.5 million.

During this flood, Somerset partners pulled together a 20 Year Flood Action Plan. One of this Plan’s main recommendations was that a partnership should be set up to improve local water management.

Somerset Rivers Authority was duly launched as a partnership in January 2015. One of the main reasons for creating the SRA was to enable the raising of more money so that more could be done to reduce the risks and impacts of flooding, above and beyond what existing Flood Risk Management Authorities were already doing.

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SRA partners

Partners in Somerset Rivers Authority are Somerset Council, the Parrett and Axe Brue Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs), the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Wessex Regional Flood & Coastal Committee (WRFCC), and Wessex Water.

Our partners work together through the SRA to achieve more than it would be possible for them to achieve individually. Partners‘ own flood risk and water management responsibilities continue. SRA membership enables partners to go above and beyond what they usually do, to carry out additional schemes and activities.

We have also worked with many other organisations and groups, most notably the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest (FWAG SW) on the award-winning Hills to Levels project, which helps to slow the flow of water down to vulnerable areas.

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SRA funding

So that Somerset Rivers Authority partners have money to achieve more, annual funding is raised through council tax solely for the use of the SRA.

In December 2015, the Government gave Somerset County Council and the five district councils that then existed the power to raise for the SRA an additional amount of money equating to 1.25% of these councils‘ 2016-17 total council tax charges. In April 2023, this power passed to the new Somerset Council.

Between 2016-17 and 2023-24, the total raised in this way for the SRA went up from £2.757 million to £3.010 million, because of an increase in the number of Somerset households paying council tax.

The Parrett and Axe Brue Internal Drainage Boards also give the SRA a total of £20,000 each year.

Only Somerset currently has this specific financial arrangement.

We use our hypothecated funding to pay for extra works across Somerset, works to reduce the risks and impacts of flooding that otherwise would not be done.

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SRA history 2014-23

A lot has been achieved.

In total, between 2015 and April 2023, we allocated an extra £39million for works to reduce the risks and impacts of flooding across Somerset: £1.9million given us by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for 2015-16, £24.1million from council tax and Internal Drainage Board contributions, and £13million of Growth Deal funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

Between 2015 and 2023 the SRA approved funding for 237 schemes and activities, quite often with many individual elements. Detailed descriptions of projects can be found in the Flood Risk Work section of the main Somerset Rivers Authority website.

Different parts of the county have different needs. Because there is no single answer to Somerset’s many flooding problems, our partners work on combinations of different approaches, grouped into five workstreams:

  1. Dredging and River Management
  2. Land Management including Natural Flood Management
  3. Urban Water Management
  4. Resilient Infrastructure
  5. Building Local Resilience

These workstreams reflect the local priorities of the original 2014 Flood Action Plan and of Somerset people. In practice, our activities have included:

  • extra maintenance, repairs and improvements
  • innovations
  • collaborations
  • enabling major projects to go ahead
  • studies, reviews, and investigations
  • long-term initiatives
  • moves that respond to Somerset’s special characteristics
  • combinations of the above

This new SRA Strategy and Flood Action Plan will incorporate recommendations from the original Plan which are still in progress, but otherwise it is now about what we want to achieve in future.

A changed context requires us to evolve our own ambitions for Somerset.

Ten years on from 2014, the time has come for a Strategy and Flood Action Plan crafted specifically for the SRA, that draws upon the experiences of the last decade, and continues to serve the people of Somerset well.

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