World-leading flood resilience centre set for Scunthorpe

Proposals for a flood resilience campus of “global significance” have been launched in Scunthorpe.

North Lincolnshire Council has contributed a significant cash boost to the project by providing a site off the A18 Mortal Ash Hill near Ashby Ville in Scunthorpe for the construction of ‘Ark’, the state-of-the-art National Flood Resilience Centre.

The project is being jointly developed by the University of Hull and Humberside Fire and Rescue Service. It is designed to simulate safe, real-life flood events, helping regional, national and international communities to be better prepared when floods occur.

Firefighters from across Europe have already expressed interest in using the facility for training.

The bid comes after Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft raised a question with the Secretary of State for Environment, Flood and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Parliament. She said: “The recent flooding incidents show very clearly that there is a need for better resilience and better planning for flooding events.

“May I ask the Secretary of State to look closely at the bid submitted by Humberside fire authority, along with Hull University and North Lincolnshire Council, for a national flood resilience centre at a site in Scunthorpe?”

The Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers MP, confirmed the bid was being looked at “very seriously.”

She said: “I am happy to give my honourable friend that assurance, and I understand that Defra officials have been engaging with the people putting forward the bid, which will be looked at very seriously.”

The purpose built centre of excellence will enable vital research on urban hydrological processes, channel-floodplain interaction and fluid-structure interactions and make the UK a world leader in flood rescue, research and resilience.

The facility will ensure better training for staff who work in and around water, supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of rescue personnel. The University of Hull will also use the facility for research and development purposes, hoping to create new, innovative products to help community live with flooding.

Cllr Rob Waltham, Leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: “Local residents will remember the devastating flooding of December 2013, and this research facility will help to ensure that communities and business can be better prepared when flooding occurs.

“This would be a significant investment in Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire and I am confident that an international research centre such as this will bring a whole sector of supply industries that could also see hundreds of well paid jobs too.”

Steve Topham, Director of Service Support, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We know from experience just how essential it is to provide an effective emergency response in the event of flooding. ‘Ark’ will give Fire and Rescue Services and all the other responding agencies a facility where we can prepare in a much more realistic way as well as having access to a wealth of research and innovation power.”

Former chief fire officer Cllr Richard Hannigan, cabinet member for place shaping at North Lincolnshire Council, said: “The development of the Ark National Flood Resilience Centre will be an extremely positive development for the UK, for our European neighbours and other countries from across the world.

“North Lincolnshire is the perfect home for Ark and the innovation which it will drive more widely. This project will further enhance our reputation as a place for technical and industrial innovation by situating this globally-significant development here.”

Bill Walker, director of strategic relationship and knowledge exchange at the University of Hull, said: “This project would bring a world-leading development to Scunthorpe. It will become an international centre of excellence for training and for research and development.

“The strengths which support it include the expertise in this region – from the university and the fire service – and the location, which is close to the motorway network, an airport and required accommodation. This will attract people from across the world.

“Not only that, the site is big enough to expand further on. By developing a national centre of excellence we can develop an eco-system which drives innovation in how we better live with flooding. At present, we continue to respond in the same way to flooding. We need to prepare for it.”