Calls repeated for gov to back £125m flood defence schemes

floods

Calls for the government to back a £125 million flood defence programme for West Yorkshire have been repeated following Storm Dennis.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said that the investing in these flood alleviation schemes will safeguard more than 5,000 homes, 3,000 businesses and 31,000 jobs.

Cllr Hinchcliffe has invited the new Chancellor and new Environment Secretary to visit flood hit communities to see first-hand the need for further investment in our region’s flood defences. This comes after Boris Johnson failed to visit flood hit communities, a decision for which he was widely condemned.

The letter to George Eustice MP, the new Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, comes after people in Calderdale, Bradford, Wakefield, Leeds and Kirklees had their homes and businesses flooded following Storms Ciara and Dennis. For many people it was the second time in five years, following the Boxing Day floods of 2015.

The Flood Alleviation to Unlock Economic Growth Programme would involve 27 projects including flood alleviation schemes in York, Keighley and Hebden Bridge which would safeguard approximately 3,300 businesses, 5,150 homes and more than 31,250 jobs across the region.

Furthermore, the programme would unlock development land which could provide 7,300 new homes and create 525 new jobs adding an estimated £100 million to the City Region economy over the next ten years.

It would also deliver environmental benefits including saving carbon emissions equating to taking 236 cars off the road every year and see £6 million invested in a natural flood management programme.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “Since the Boxing Day floods of 2015, the Combined Authority has invested £20 million from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal, alongside over £170 million of partner match funding for the City Region, into schemes covering Leeds City Centre, Skipton and Mytholmroyd to safeguard up to 1,385 businesses and at least 11,100 jobs from the risk of flood.

“But we know that this isn’t enough so I’m urging the Government to demonstrate its commitment to protecting our communities by providing the funding we need.

“We’ve worked cross party and cross Yorkshire to put this bid together which has now been in the Government’s in tray for some time. Given the urgency of climate emergency and change of Ministers I hope they will now look upon our bid with renewed interest.”

The Combined Authority is also investing £2.6 million in the Wyke Beck Flood Alleviation Scheme in East Leeds, £3.9 million in phase two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme and £1.7 million in natural flood management schemes in the Colne, Calder and Upper Aire catchment areas.

Earlier this month, £1.9 million was approved by Combined Authority’s Investment Committee to help start a £27.2 million scheme in Hebden Bridge being led by the Environment Agency which will reduce the risk of flooding from a 20% risk to a 2% risk in any given year.