First-of-a-kind UK flood scheme opens in Sheffield

Sir James Bevan

A £21m flood defence scheme to better protect hundreds of businesses in Sheffield’s Lower Don Valley has been completed.

The Lower Don Valley area is second only to the city centre for economic importance to Sheffield. The new flood alleviation scheme will benefit more than 500 businesses and safeguard around 5,000 jobs, key roads in and out of the city and homes along a five-mile stretch of the River Don.

New ‘hard defences’ have been installed along an 8km stretch of the river to raise flood defence levels comprising new gravity walls, installation of flood gates and the fitting of more than 300 flap valves to pipes and openings which discharge to the river.

Sir James Bevan, Environment Agency Chief Executive, said: “Flooding has devastating costs for people and businesses – and we know this has been the case for the people of Sheffield. This fantastic scheme will not only benefit homes and businesses in the city but it will also safeguard thousands of jobs due to the increased level of protection it provides.

“It’s been great to see Sheffield City Council and the Environment Agency working together in partnership to better protect the Lower Don Valley.

“It is the first scheme of its kind in the UK to have business owners contributing to the costs of the flood protection through the creation of a formal Business Improvement District – a business led partnership created to bring additional services to local businesses. The Environment Agency and Defra contributed £19.3m towards the total capital cost of £20.7m, with local businesses contributing £1.4m.”

Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “This partnership funding model showcases the way industry can work with Government to provide wider benefits to the community with local business investment in this project. The Sheffield Lower Don Valley scheme is protecting jobs, businesses and vital infrastructure which the whole city can be very proud of.”

In Yorkshire, the Government is investing £430 million over the next four years to reduce the flood risk to a further 63,000 homes and businesses.

The Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, and the Leader of Sheffield City Council Councillor Julie Dore were among those at the event, also attended by local business owners, to mark the completion of the work.