FWAG SW and Somerset Frome partners are launching two exciting new projects, working with farmers and land managers in the Upper Somerset Frome to deliver a catchment-wide approach for water environment improvements. The Somerset Frome Multi-Benefits Project, funded by the Environment Agency’s Water Environment Improvement Fund (WEIF), aims to provide water quality and wider environmental improvements. Delivery will be closely integrated with the Wallbridge NFM Project, funded by Mendip District Council to deliver Natural Flood Management solutions at Wallbridge near Frome Town Centre and across the upper catchment.

FWAG SW advisers have recently begun engaging with farmers and landowners in the upper catchment (outlined in red on the map) to discuss both projects. We are offering advice on land management and NFM measures and designs. We can also provide individual Farm Management Plans.  Where appropriate, capital grants will be made available to help land managers implement improvements.

Somerset Frome project area

The Somerset Frome suffers from a number of water environment issues including high sediment and nutrient loading from diffuse pollution. These are primarily due to agricultural land management practices and there have also been three major pollution incidents during the last 10 years resulting in significant fish kills. Some stretches of the river are highly modified, impacting on fish passage and biodiversity, and there is localised flooding across the upper catchment.

In addition, there is regular flooding of the A362 at Wallbridge on the edge of Frome town centre, where three of the upper catchment tributaries converge.  Several homes are affected as well as the road and EA have been unable to identify a conventional flood risk solution. However, evidence is mounting that NFM measures in the upper catchment could reduce the frequency and extent of flooding at Wallbridge by slowing the flow and holding back water, as well as reducing localised flooding, providing water quality improvements and wider environmental benefits. As a result, Mendip District Council has awarded Section 106 funding to scope and design NFM solutions across the upper catchment. This work will build on FWAG SW’s highly successful ‘Hills to Levels’ project.

Both projects will be led by FWAG SW and delivered with Somerset Frome Partners.  Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) will investigate fisheries issues and engage with local anglers to develop a targeted Fisheries Plan. EA technical experts will be working with us to create a Good Ecological Potential Plan that will address issues in the most highly modified Maiden Bradley to Mells waterbody that flows through Frome town centre. EA will also develop plans for flood risk road signage and property level flood protection at Wallbridge. And a Catchment Delivery Plan will be prepared to inform future work.

If you’d like to know more please contact Ali Morgan [email protected] or Vicky Munday [email protected]