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Council calls for improved flood protection for Ironbridge

By Dominic Robertson | Ironbridge | News | Published:

Ironbridge's temporary barriers are not a "long-term solution" for the town, according to Telford & Wrekin Council.

SHROPSHIRE STAR ( JOHN SAMBROOKS) 05/03/2020..Shadow Minister Andrew Gwynne, pictured with the leader of Telford and Wrekin Council, Councillor Shaun Davies and Ironbridge Gorge Ward Member Carolyn Healy as he visits Ironbridge following the recent floods................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. .............................

The authority has called for comprehensive protection on both sides of the River Severn, and for areas not currently covered by temporary barriers used on the town's Wharfage.

The Environment Agency has confirmed it is reviewing the town's current defences after the recent devastating flooding, but has said it believes the temporary barriers are the best long-term solution for the area.

It has raised concerns about the impact of permanent defences on the World Heritage Site.

However, the council has now said it wants to work with the Environment Agency to look at whether demountable defences, such as those used at Frankwell Car Park in Shrewsbury, would be possible.

Ironbridge was hit by floods from Storms Dennis and Ciara

Councillor Shaun Davies, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said: "We need a solution that helps to protect Ironbridge Gorge residents and businesses on both sides of the River Severn.

"The current temporary barriers installed by the Environment Agency are not seen as a sustainable long-term solution by the council.

"We would like to work with the Environment Agency to reconsider whether demountable defences like the ones used in Bewdley and Shrewsbury would be viable for The Wharfage as well as better defences for individual properties and business who reside on both sides of the river.

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“There are clearly engineering and heritage issues to consider. However a Gorge-wide solution is needed which protects all properties at risk and causes less disruption to residents and businesses.

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"We also need support to provide significant grants to help people protect their properties from flooding in the future."

Councillor David Wright, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for infrastructure, said that solutions to the risk of flooding also need to focus further upstream.

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“Alongside a specific solution for the Gorge we need a whole River Severn solution and we are working with our partners including Shropshire Council and the Environment Agency to explore what those options might be,” he said.

Flooding from storms Ciara and Dennis caused huge disruption in Ironbridge, with the temporary barriers eventually overwhelmed, leading to an evacuation for fears of people's safety.

Many residents have had businesses and properties ruined, and needing extensive work to make them habitable or operational again.

However, the Environment Agency confirmed last week that it has concerns about the impact of changes on the character of the town.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "The barriers erected when needed are the best long-term solution for the location, as putting up defences when they’re needed and taking them down when they’re not helps the village to retain its character and world heritage status.

"There are no current plans to install permanent defences. However, this will be reviewed after this incident as standard procedure."

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