A SPECIALIST school in Somerset may have to relocate if a solution cannot be found to persistent flooding on one part of the Levels.

Inaura School provides education for children with special educations needs and disabilities (SEND) across Somerset, with bases in Burrowbridge, Street and Wedmore along with an “outreach and outdoor learning facility” in Godney near Glastonbury.

School staff and pupils have been unable to access the Godney site owing to severe localised flooding – prompting a request for urgent action from the Environment Agency (EA).

The EA said it is working on proposals to reduce the long-term risk of flooding in the wider River Brue catchment area and would be holding a drop-in session to allow local residents to give their input.

Neil Clist, the school’s health and safety officer, made his impassioned plea when the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) board met in Shepton Mallet on March 8.

He said: “Our 32 students attend the Godney site to experience outdoor learning and therapeutic benefits.

“Currently, the water is up at waist height. The water has entered the classrooms and we haven’t been able to get on site to assess the loss.

“Since November 2022, this is now our fourth occasion of being underwater, and every time it is significantly higher.

“What has happened to cause this huge increase in risk to the Godney region? What are your plans to mitigate these risks, so we can decide whether we have to move away from the area?”

Mr Clist was not the only public speaker who raised concerns about flooding within the River Brue catchment area, which includes Glastonbury, Street and the neighbouring villages.

Michael Churches, who owns the Glastonbury Wedding and Events venue with his wife Jenny, said: “Having suffered many years of land flooded and trying to farm on the Somerset Levels, it has come to a stage now that if no plans are put in place for the long-term future, then all the years spent farming (six generations) alongside the abundance of wildlife we also share will be lost for good.

“The simple answer and solution is to slow the flow upstream around Bruton and Shepton Mallet, increase the capacity in the rivers and build up the banks by de-silting the Division Rhyne, the River Sheppey and the North Drain, and de-silting and clearing debris from the River Brue from Highbridge back to Glastonbury.

“Why are you wasting money having impact assessments and habitat reports when the wildlife is wiped out under three feet of water? Our road has been closed for 17 weeks since the beginning of November 2023.”

Mark Main, who lives near Castle Cary, said more needed to be done to protect upstream communities following the recently completed modelling of the River Brue.

He said: “In the most recent flooding event, houses flooded in January in Lovington were flooded again and many roads were impassable along the River Alham tributary of the Brue around Evercreech, Prestleigh, and Alhampton.

“Will your modelling not disadvantage the upland catchment when investment is prioritised?

“The River Alham is a substantial waterway. I am concerned that the impact of high flows in that waterway (which joins the Brue just above Lovington) are overlooked because it is not adequately monitored. How are flood surges on the Alham monitored?”

Simon Shimmin, chairman of North Wootton Parish Council, added: “Road blockages due to flood-water affecting all the routes in and out of the village are a regular problem in the village.

“I would request a proper study of the causes of flooding in North Wootton and proposals for measures to reduce the risks, which are no longer tolerable.”

Tony Bradford, vice-chairman of the Parrett Internal Drainage Board, said that waiting longer to address the flooding would end up damaging Somerset’s ecology as well as hurting local homes and businesses.

He said: “We’ve been talking about the Brue five, six, seven years if not longer. Funding should be made available for tree and vegetation clearing – that would be a start.

“If we don’t stop this, every time we have a flood event it knocks the nature recovery back ten years.”

Rachel Burden, the EA’s Wessex flood and coastal risk manager, said that there had been high levels of rainfall during the autumn and winter and long-term solutions were being worked up to protect the community.

She said: “The level of rainfall we had over the last five months has far exceeded 2013/14 – the rainfall in February alone was 200 to 300 per cent more than the average.

“We are not surprised about the levels of flooding. If we continue to see the patterns that we are seeing, this will happen more and more.

“The SRA board made a commitment to come together and look for quick wins for the catchment area. We’re not in a position to comment on those answers – we do have a drop-in in Godney on that.”

The EA will be staging a drop-in event at Godney Village Hall on Monday (March 18) between 3pm and 7pm, allowing residents to give their views to experts on flood prevention measures and to be signposted to support for their affected land and properties.

A further update on local flood prevention efforts is expected to come back before the SRA board later in the year – with its next meeting due to be held on June 14.