Statement - Braunton Marshes

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones has convened a meeting on Braunton Marshes in the wake of last week's storms to discuss future plans to protect the landscape.

The meeting was prompted by two incidents when high tides and strong winds led to water over-topping one of the banks designed to prevent the area from flooding.

The Environment Agency, the Drainage Board and the Marsh Inspectors were among the organisations at the meeting, which was held on the marshes as more strong winds hit the area.  Also present were local councillor and chair of the Drainage Board, Cllr Jasmine Chesters, and Braunton Flood Warden, Ben Byrom.

Peter Heaton-Jones said, “There was clearly a great deal of community concern following last week's incidents when high tides and strong winds led to water coming over the top of one of the defensive banks.  I wanted to see the situation for myself, and to talk to the various organisations responsible for managing this area.

“The overall message that came across was that last week's incidents, although worrying, were not as serious as first thought.  In particular, I have been assured that even if the breach of the bank had been worse, there is no question of this causing a flood risk to Braunton village itself.  I think it's important that the community is reassured of this true position first and foremost.

“There has been significant investment in flood prevention measures in the village, where the principal risk is from the river rather than from any over-topping of the defensive banks on the marshes.  However, there are environmental concerns around the effects of salt water inundating the marshes, which could happen if the banks ever suffer a more serious breach.

“For this reason I have asked the various organisations involved to meet me again – this time out of the wind and rain – to discuss a long term management and maintenance plan.  There's a complex web of bodies with various responsibilities, and the situation's further complicated by the fact that some of the flood defences are on private land.  That's why I want to ensure that everyone works together so that we have a sustainable plan for the long term management and protection of the marshes which are such an important and much-loved part of the local landscape”.