Controversial dam dropped from Shrewsbury relief road plan

A group looking at a controversial dam plan to stop flooding in parts of the county says it is now considering other options.

An artist’s impression of how the proposed North West Relief Road could look
An artist’s impression of how the proposed North West Relief Road could look

The Environment Agency has been working on a plan that would have seen a dam, or large embankment, created as part of the North West Relief Road, in Shrewsbury.

The proposal attracted concern from residents north of Shrewsbury who fear that flooding, which already impacts their properties and businesses, would be made worse by such a scheme.

Shropshire Council will this week submit a planning application for the North West Relief Road (NWRR), but it has dropped the embankment from the project – and has replaced it with a viaduct.

Despite that the Environment Agency has said it is considering other options and that it is “likely” that “engineered solutions” such as raised embankments or other work will be needed to alleviate flooding.

Flooding worries

The organisation said it is looking at other ideas, such as a reservoir and ‘natural flood risk’ practices – although there are currently no details about where and what the schemes may be.

It comes as Shrewsbury, Melverley, Ironbridge, and other areas of the county have been hit by devastating flooding two years in a row.

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson said there should be no move to create a dam ‘halfway’ down the Severn, describing the idea as misguided.

Melverley Parish Councillor Rosy Harding, who is also a member of Save Our Severn, a group opposed to the creation of a dam, said residents had been requesting information on what options would be considered instead of the NWRR plan.

She said: “It is frustrating because we do not know what the other options are. What exactly are they going to do?”

Viaduct

An original planning application for the Shrewsbury road was delayed while the council looked at whether it could include the embankment at Shelton.

That proposal has been replaced by a viaduct crossing the River Severn.

Matt Johnson, Shropshire Council’s executive manager for strategic projects, said: “As you may be aware, a planning application for the North West Relief Road (NWRR) was due to be submitted in July 2020, but this was put on hold while we considered the implications of the funding announcement for the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme (SVWMS). This process has now been completed.

“The planning application will be for a road scheme only and will include a viaduct across the River Severn and its flood plain at Shelton instead of an extended embankment design that was proposed in the public consultation last year.

“We will however continue to work with the River Severn Partnership and the Environment Agency to explore the potential for a SVWMS.”

'Preferred option'

The Environment Agency had appeared to be in favour of the plan with its own consultation on reducing flooding in the area describing it as a preferred option.

An online consultation on the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme, being run by the organisation, still describes the embankment as a "preferred option".

It states: "A preferred option at present is to develop a combined scheme with the NWRR.

"Initial investigations have been undertaken to determine whether combining a water management scheme with the NWRR is viable and worthy of further consideration, as we look at a wider variety of options.

"Those assessments have suggested that using the road embankment as part of a water management scheme could be effective in containing and storing flood water upstream during times of flood. This would reduce the flood risk to Shrewsbury and downstream areas."

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