£170 million investment to protect against flooding announced

14 July 2020, 11:23

Temporary flood barriers in Ironbridge, Shropshire, after the River Severn flooded
Temporary flood barriers in Ironbridge, Shropshire, after the River Severn flooded. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Government will use £170 million to kick-start a "shovel-ready" series of flood defence projects across England to help protect against rising water.

The move comes after a devastating series of floods during the first part of the year, which saw officials declare major emergencies due to the threat of the rising tide.

Flood-hit areas will benefit from a £5.2 billion package which the Government will use to build around 2,000 flood and coastal defences that will help keep 336,000 properties safe by 2027.

The £5.2 billion investment, announced in the Budget in March, is for schemes from 2021.

The multi-billion investment will help to protect thousands of key sites and could help avoid £32 billion of wider economic damage from floods, the Government said.

On top of that, an extra £200 million will be used for innovative projects, such as creating sustainable urban drainage schemes or wetlands to store water and boost wildlife at the same time, which will be tested out in 25 at-risk areas.

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There are also proposed changes to the joint Government and insurance industry Flood Re scheme, as part of the plans being unveiled by ministers.

These include offering discounted premiums to households who have fitted protection measures such as air brick covers, and allowing payment of claims to include additional amounts to rebuild properties so they are better protected from future floods.

The Government also said it would review the policy for building in areas at risk of floods to protect future development, amid concerns over homes being built in the flood plain, and expand flood warning systems.

And the plans include a commitment to doubling the number of Government-funded projects which include natural solutions such as planting trees, restoring peatland and wetlands and looking after soils, which also have benefits for wildlife and tackling climate change.

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The £170 million cash injection will help boost the economy as areas recover from the pandemic by starting work from this year on 22 projects, which are ready to go with help to reach required levels of funding.

As well as protecting homes, the projects will defend more than 10,000 local businesses and safeguard around 100,000 jobs that rely on those firms, the Government said.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Last winter I saw for myself the misery and upheaval that flooding can bring to lives and livelihoods and I said we would do more to help people.

"This long-term plan will help push back the flood waters and protect hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses and livelihoods.

"Our record investment will also stimulate economic growth across the UK as we build back better."

Mr Johnson visited flood-hit communities during the 2019 general election campaign but faced criticism for not doing so during floods earlier this year.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "The devastating impacts of last winter's flooding were an important reminder of the need to continue to invest and accelerate action to reduce the impact of flooding on our communities.

"Our record investment and ambitious policies will better protect homes, schools, hospitals and businesses, but we also recognise that we cannot prevent flooding entirely, which is why we will ensure that communities at high risk are more resilient."

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Which areas will benefit from the £170 million?

The 22 shovel-ready flood defence projects are:

- Severn Valley flood risk management scheme, up to £30,000,000, and Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, up to £4,895,000, to protect nearly 3,000 homes in areas badly affected by last winter's floods.

Severn Valley natural flood management and carbon offsetting scheme will also receive £5,400,000 for tree planting and habitat creation.

- Leeds flood alleviation scheme, for phase two of the project, which will protect more than 370 businesses and enable development of land for homes and jobs, subject to a business case approved by the Environment Department and Treasury, up to £21,000,000.

There will also be £1,320,000 for the Leeds natural flood management scheme.

- Sheffield Upper Don Valley and the Upper Don Catchment natural flood management programme, which will protect more than 650 businesses, £16,000,000.

- Lowestoft, Suffolk, flood risk management project will deliver a tidal barrier and flood walls to protect key infrastructure and businesses, £43,486,439.

- Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, better protection for the town, including almost 1,000 businesses, while maintaining the importance of access to the river, £12,000,000.

- Derby, flood scheme to protect more than 1,000 business and help regeneration in the city, £10,000,000.

- Team Valley, £6,000,000

- Lowdham, Nottinghamshire, storage of water in reservoirs will help to reduce flood risk in the village, which has flooded three times in the last 12 months, £5,000,000.

- Benacre and Kessingland, Suffolk, flood risk management scheme, £3,297,660.

- Bude, Cornwall, The Crescent, a scheme to sustain existing protection and allow continued growth in the tourism industry, up to £2,140,000.

- Brighton Marina to River Adur, Sussex, protecting critical infrastructure on the south coast, including a power plant serving 300,000 homes and one of the largest cargo ports in the south of England, £2,000,000.

- Padiham, Lancashire, scheme protecting almost 300 businesses, £2,000,000.

- Lancaster, Caton Road, £1,400,000.

- Hexham, Northumberland, £1,000,000.

- Peak District, peatland restoration, £960,000.

- East Cowes, Isle of Wight, funding to reduce the risk of tidal flooding and increase resilience for properties and businesses, including the ferry terminal, £500,000.

- Falmouth, Cornwall, flood scheme to reduce risks associated with surface water flooding and allow further growth in the town centre waterfront area, £500,000.

- Penketh and Whittle Brooks, Warrington, £480,000.

- Ponteland, Northumberland, flood alleviation scheme, to allow continued protection of the town, and better protect almost 500 businesses, £450,000.