A joint £80 million project by South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Councils and the Environment Agency, is being designed to protect the Avonmouth Severnside Enterprise Area (ASEA) and 2,500 homes against the possibility of rare but severe flooding. The scheme will also create at least 80 hectares of new wetland habitats for internationally important birdlife.
We are asking residents and businesses to give their feedback on various elements of the proposed design, to help us refine the scheme and construction works. The Councils will consider formal planning applications for the work in autumn 2017, which will incorporate the feedback from this exercise.
The work, along a 17 kilometre stretch of the Severn Estuary shoreline, will include new and heightened defences against predicted rises in sea levels brought about by a changing climate. Construction work is planned to take place, in stages, from 2018/19.
Once this consultation process is complete, the councils and Environment Agency will submit their final plans for approval by Government and seek the required funding.
The scheme is designed to protect an area from the River Avon and Avonmouth Docks to Aust Cliff, near the original Severn Crossing (M48), including Avonmouth and Severnside, for at least 60 years.
A key objective of the project is supporting the growth of the ASEA – one of six strategically important employment areas in the West of England – with the capacity to see 12,000 new jobs created by 2026.
The Severn Estuary is also an important ecological area, particularly for local and visiting birds. In recognition of this, the project will deliver at least 80 hectares of new habitat to replace or expand any that is lost or disturbed by the development in the Enterprise Area. The new wetlands habitats will be developed around Hallen Marsh and Northwick.
New Environment Agency projections tells us that flood defences need to be upgraded to meet potentially higher tides. Currently, some businesses are discouraged from investing in the Enterprise Area because of the risk and the cost of raising their buildings to protect themselves from flooding.
By improving flood defences, developers will have more confidence, encouraging them to invest and to unlock the economic potential of the Enterprise Area and generate jobs.
The suitability of existing flood defences has been assessed and a number of options for increasing protection have been discussed with key stakeholders including Wessex Water, the Lower Severn Internal Drainage Board and Natural England.
The type of defences required will vary depending on the needs in each area. In most cases they will build upon existing structures and flood banks.
Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, with responsibility for Economic Development in the Cabinet, Councillor Matthew Riddle, said: “This scheme of work is needed to protect homes and businesses for the next 60 years. The changing climate presents risks that we must adapt to and working with our partners and experts at the Environment Agency we believe this work will give us the protection we need for the future. We appreciate there will be some inevitable disruption while construction takes place and we will of course do our best to minimise this by working in stages. We are asking for input from residents and businesses now so that as far as possible we can take account of communities’ needs as we plan the delivery of this project.”
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This is a great opportunity to make the most of central government and Local Enterprise Partnership funding to protect the Avonmouth area against an ever increasing flood risk, whilst also encouraging new investment and growth.
“We need to take notice of climate change now and face up to the impact it could have on us in the future. Here in Bristol we are next to one of the largest tidal ranges in the world so it’s important that we do something now to protect our local communities in the future. By working together with our colleagues in South Gloucestershire Council and the Environment Agency, I am confident that we will be able to create something that will provide protection for many years to come.
“If you live locally, I encourage you to feedback to these proposals to make sure we get this right and allow us to protect the community and benefit the rest of the city.”
Wessex Area Director Nick Gupta of the Environment Agency said: “By pooling resources and working in collaboration we can build improved flood defences to better protect more than 2,500 homes and many businesses for decades to come at the same time as protecting biodiversity and the environment.”
To find out more about the project and read the full details of the project proposals and FAQs, go online at http://sites.southglos.gov.uk/insouthglos/enterprise/avonmouth/flood-ecology. Public engagement events will also take place in the affected area:
Tuesday 4 July, 4-8pm – Avonmouth Community Centre, 257 Avonmouth Road, BS11 9EN
Tuesday 18 July, 5:30-8pm – Severn Beach Primary School, Ableton Lane, BS35 4PP.