Vegetation to be removed from landmark Shrewsbury bridge amid flooding fears

The minister for flooding has said work will soon be carried out to remove vegetation around a landmark Shropshire bridge amid concerns it could lead to future flooding.

Work is being carried out to reduce vegetation beneath Shrewsbury's English Bridge
Work is being carried out to reduce vegetation beneath Shrewsbury's English Bridge

Rebecca Pow said work would begin to reduce silt levels around Shrewsbury's English Bridge 'before autumn'.

Miss Pow was responding to a question from Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski, who voiced concerns that silt was blocking at least two arches of the bridge.

Mr Kawczynski also asked what steps were being taken to remove two islets beneath the bridge which he said had formed over the past four years.

But Miss Pow replied that there was no evidence that the islets had any significant effect on flood risk.

Mr Kawczynski also asked whether temporary flood barriers, similar to the ones used in Ironbridge, could be provided for the Coton Hill and Chester Street area of the town.

He further suggested that the dams at the Vyrnwy and Clywedog reservoirs could be lowered in the autumn to provide additional storage capacity over the the winter months.

Floods minister Rebecca Pow during a visit to Shrewsbury earlier this year

Miss Pow said the Severn Valley Flood Risk Management Scheme had been granted £10 million to formulate a long-term plan.

"This work will consider sustainable approaches to the management of the catchment from a variety of perspectives, including flood risk, water resources and the natural environment," she said.

Miss Pow added that in the short-to-medium term the Environment Agency would continue to investigate the potential for measures in areas of Shrewsbury affected by flooding.

"Shropshire Council is responsible for maintaining the bridges in Shrewsbury and, in conjunction with the Environment Agency, uses its permissive powers to reduce vegetation and remove obstructions around the English Bridge to prevent obstruction to flood flows," she said.

"Whilst it is not sustainable, cost effective or a benefit to flooding to remove all the silt from the arches on the English Bridge, this management technique loosens the silt around the bridges so it can be transported by the river.

"Work of this nature was undertaken in spring 2021 at English Bridge and further work will be completed before autumn to reduce vegetation."

Miss Pow said historically there had always been islands downstream of the English Bridge due to the nature and shape of the channel and flows within it.

"Flood modelling has shown that complete removal of these islands would not result in any significant reduction in flooding," she added.

Miss Pow said the primary role of the Vyrnwy and Clywedog reservoirs was in the public water supply.

She said it was normal policy to reduce water levels from autumn until spring to to reduce the likelihood of flooding downstream.

"The reservoirs are at the head of the catchment and play a very minor role in terms of mitigating flood risk to communities such as Shrewsbury and Ironbridge, with the vast majority of river flow originating from the catchments downstream of the reservoirs," she added.

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