The Environment Agency is spearheading massive flood relief efforts in the Somerset Levels with the help of a fleet of six JCB machines. Two of the British manufacturer’s iconic backhoe loaders, along with four Fastrac high-speed tractors with trailers, have been on loan to the Environment Agency since early in February, helping with the clear-up work.
The Fastrac tractors are being operated from the Environment Agency’s Bradney Depot near Glastonbury. Driven by the EA’s skilled operators, the machines have being used to haul additional pumping equipment, to ferry personnel and to move large quantities of stone to otherwise inaccessible areas as part of the relief effort.
Their speed, off-road capabilities and capacity to safely pull heavy loads has made the Fastracs an essential component of the clear-up project.
“We simply can’t get articulated lorries into these remote places,” said Environment Agency Flood Risk Control Officer Andrew Pearce. “It wouldn’t be possible to access some of these locations without the JCB machines.”
The 4CX backhoe loaders are primarily being used to load the stone for transport to the flooded areas at present. However Mr Pearce says that once the flood waters have receded, the machines will be put to work removing temporary structures and helping to clear up in the many villages hit by the waters.
“The levels are dropping now and we’ve got a good strategy in place going forwards,” he said. “The work is more about clean-up at present, we are able to pump more water
now to protect properties.”
The machines have provided vital support to the Environment Agency’s relief efforts, delivering exceptional all-weather, all-terrain capabilities to assist in delivering rapid assistance where it is needed, to help farmers and villagers within the flood-hit areas.
“The machines have been invaluable. You’ll have a hard time getting them back of us now,” said Mr Pearce.
JCB Chairman Lord Bamford added: “The scale of the floods was devastating for all concerned. I am delighted that as Britain’s biggest equipment manufacturer we were able to rapidly provide some useful assistance to the Environment Agency, and to the many families affected by the terrible flooding in the Somerset levels.”
JCB has a history of assisting countries affected by major natural disasters and was quick to come to the aid of UK farmers and villagers in the area. A JCB 541-70 Loadall telescopic handler was already being used to help farmers to feed livestock, when the additional fleet of machines was despatched from JCB’s World Headquarters site in Staffordshire.
A 541-70 Loadall and Fastrac 2170 were also deployed in early February to assist the Forage Aid Scheme, spearheaded by farmer Andrew Ward, operating from Sedgemoor Livestock Auction near Bridgewater. As a direct response to a plea from the Forage Aid team, due to an unprecedented response from farmers all over the country donating feed and bedding, JCB dispatched two additional 531-70 Loadalls to help, bringing the fleet to 4 machines.