Government money for flood prevention in South Yorkshire branded 'inadequate' by City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis

A new wave of Government money for flood prevention in South Yorkshire is ‘inadequate’ to prevent another disaster in the county, Mayor Dan Jarvis has said.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 30th July 2020, 1:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th July 2020, 1:15 pm

Ministers have given £16 million to the Sheffield City Region to bolster flood defences but the county needs funding worth £270 million to make a real impact, the mayor said.

The November 2019 floods in South Yorkshire affected almost 1,000 homes and 565 businesses with Doncaster in particular bearing the brunt after the River Don burst its banks following a huge deluge of rain.

The Government money covers costs for the Sheaf Catchment flood alleviation scheme and Blackburn Brook flood alleviation scheme in Sheffield, to further protect other areas of the city centre and critical infrastructure like the railway station.

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The Prime Minister Boris Johnson chatting to volunteer Rosemarie Squire at the Stainforth Community Resource Centre, Stainforth, Doncaster, following last November's floods

The money also includes natural flood management peat restoration in Upper Don & Rother Catchment as well as a wider examination of how natural flood management can be used across South Yorkshire.

SCR bosses drew up the Infrastructure Resilience Flood Priority Programme which needs around £271 million of investment but would result in protecting over 2,800 businesses, 10,300 homes and avoid a potential bill of £1.7bn in damages.

Schemes include large scale refurbishments and improvements to embankments and other flood assets like outfalls in the Lower Don areas of Doncaster including the town centre, Wheatley Park, Fishlake, Bentley and Thorpe Marsh.

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis MP

Exploratory work to look at how water could be stored in reservoirs across the upper Don area, in order to help reduce risk downstream in major flood events and a new pumping station at Catcliffe in Rotherham.

Mayor Jarvis said: “It’s been nine months since Boris Johnson agreed to hold the summit after severe floods hit South Yorkshire in November 2019.

“The government’s trustworthiness is on the line here. We understand that COVID has caused a lot of disruption, but the flood risk does not get any less just because we are preoccupied with other issues.

“The government recently allocated £16m for flood defences in South Yorkshire. That is completely inadequate given the scale of the threat – and it only targets areas affected by the 2007 floods, with nothing for places like Fishlake in Doncaster and Parkgate in Rotherham that were badly hit last November.

“We’ve drawn up a detailed £270m plan for nature-friendly flood defences in South Yorkshire, including urgent projects to protect the places hit in 2019 and which the government’s current plans leave defenceless. With climate change making the risk of another disaster on the scale of 2019 ever greater, the government should be helping us implement it as soon as possible.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “We understand the heartbreak, devastation and disruption faced by communities when flooding hits and we are committed to making the country as resilient to flooding as possible.

“This is why we have already built 59 new flood defences in Yorkshire since 2015, better protecting 13,200 homes, and nationally we have committed record levels of investment over the next six years to better protect 336,000 properties.

“We will continue to work with local leaders and communities across Yorkshire - including holding a roundtable discussion when it is appropriate to do so.”

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