PM mobilises troops and promises action on flood defences

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PM mobilises troops and promises action on flood defences

Prime minister David Cameron has promised £30m for emergency flood defence repairs on top of a previously announced £100m for flood defence schemes.

A total of 42 new flood schemes have been approved to start construction this year on top of the 13 previously given funding that will also begin.

Army engineers have been called in to help shore up a collapsed section of railway in Dawlish, in south Devon and Royal Marine Commandos have been brought in to fill sandbags in Somerset.

The Environment Agency has ordered specialist pumping equipment to clear roads, in addition to the extra pumps already called in.

After chairing a meeting of the COBR, the government’s emergency committee, last night Mr Cameron vowed that he would “continue to do everything possible to help communities affected by these storms”.

He said: “I want to reassure everyone affected by these terrible storms that we will continue to keep up our urgent response and help get them back on the move.”

New flood defence schemes given approval include:

  • £9.4m Port Clarence and Greatham scheme in Teesside which will improve protection to 350 homes from flooding;
  • £4m scheme in Croston, Lancashire which will improve protection to 460 homes from the River Yarrow; and
  • £2.5m scheme on the Upper River Tame in Titford, which will improve protection to 150 homes.

A total of £344m will be spent on capital projects this year. Over the course of this Parliament, £3.1bn is promised for flood defences, the government said.

Floods minister Dan Rogerson said: “After the wettest January for over 200 years, Britain has been battered by some exceptional weather and communities have been devastated by the impact of flooding.

“Our flood defences have been seriously tested over the past two months which is why we are investing in repairs to ensure these crucial defences can withstand future storms.

“More money than ever before is being invested in flood defences and the new schemes will give greater security to thousands of homes and businesses that have previously feared flooding.

Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith said: “These schemes will go towards improved protection for over 165,000 properties in the four years to 2015 – 20,000 more than our target. Our priority is to do as much as we can with every pound of funding.

“The announcement of additional funding for urgent repairs to defences damaged during the recent storms is also welcomed. We are working closely with our local partners and communities across the country to assess and repair damage as quickly as possible.

“With one in six homes in England at risk of flooding, we would also encourage people to take their own steps to prepare for flooding, for example by signing up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service.”

The government also has a partnership funding scheme, which is supporting:

  • A £18.1m Sheffield City Council Lower Don Valley scheme that will better protect 290 business properties, thanks to local businesses who will contribute £1.4m to the scheme;
  • A £37 million coastal defence scheme at Clacton led by Tendring District Council will improve protection to over 1,500 homes, with over £6 million in contributions;
  • A £24.2m scheme in Morpeth, Northumbria, which has benefitted from £5.6m in partnership contributions to protect nearly 500 homes;
  • A £21m coastal erosion scheme in Lyme Regis, Dorset which has received £4.3m in partnership contributions, improving protection to 480 homes, and;
  • A £51m scheme in Leeds City centre, which will receive £3.4m of partnership contributions in 2014/15.

Not everyone is impressed. Ola Holmstrom, head of water at consulting engineer WSP, said: “More flood defence schemes are a step in the right direction. However, a scheme normally takes at the very least eighteen months to produce so we need more information on where these schemes are coming from – they may simply be recycled schemes.

“Again we're being too reactive, we need to invest for the future rather than try and fix the problems as they come up. Government should set a tangible goal for the long-term, for example ‘no homes will flood from a 1 in 100 year tidal or river flooding by 2040’, and a plan of how to get there."

 

 

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