Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Flooding in Somerset

The Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, Ian Liddell-Grainger, has condemned a proposal by the Environment Agency to flood the Steart peninsula in Somerset.

Leading a Westminster Hall debate on 12 January 2011 he described the agency's staff as "cocksure know-it-alls", and said the scheme was opposed by local people.

The £20m project would involve letting the sea reclaim the land at Steart Point between the River Parrett and the Severn Estuary, creating England's biggest wetlands.

The decision has been taken as the area is sparsely populated and with weak flood defences.

The planned wetlands area would cover 500 hectares of land.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said he rejected the idea that converting the area into a bird sanctuary was cheaper than maintaining it for farming.

However Defra Minister Richard Benyon said the scheme had "many positive points", and that it was the only way to protect the environmental heritage of the Severn Estuary.

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