£40m boost to shore up northern flood defences

4 Jan 16

An extra £40m will be mobilised to rebuild and improve flood defences following storms that have caused damage across the north of England, the government has announced.

The support will take the government support programme for areas flooded by the storms Desmond and Eva to nearly £200m. Ministers had already announced that the Bellwin scheme would be opened to compensate flood-hit councils faced with additional costs, while there will also be council tax relief for people forced to evacuate their homes.

In particular, £10m of the new funding package would be reserved to improve the Foss Barrier protecting York, which was overwhelmed by Storm Eva, while the other £30m will be spent repairing defences on the Wharfe, Calder, Aire, Ouse and Derwent.

Prime Minister David Cameron said work to repair and improve flood defences was vital in addition to the £2.3bn the government was already committed to spending over the next six years to protect 300,000 houses across the country.

“But now more than £40m will be spent to fix those defences overwhelmed by the record rainfall we’ve seen in recent weeks and to make them more resilient to further bad weather,” he said.

The flooding response in Yorkshire will be overseen by transport minister Robert Goodwill, who has been appointed as flooding envoy to the county. This will complement the work of floods minister Rory Stewart as envoy for Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumberland. Both will report to a Cabinet flood recovery committee chaired by local government secretary Greg Clark.

Labour has called for an independent assessment of the government’s funding programme for flooding defence.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said concerns had been expressed by council leaders about cuts in spending since 2010, and an expert review was now needed.

“David Cameron is in danger of losing the confidence of council leaders and local communities hit by the floods,” McDonnell stated.

"In order to restore confidence in government action, I propose that a prompt independent assessment is made of the future flood defence investment programme, led by independent experts, including local council leaders drawn from the affected areas.”

Did you enjoy this article?