It’s been a year since the devastating floods hit South Yorkshire, affecting more than 1,000 homes and 565 businesses. The effects of these floods are still felt today by many, as dozens of families are still unable to return to their homes or are facing repair work.
The Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority has been working hard to ensure that they can protect residents’ homes and businesses from future flooding. They have agreed to bring forward investment to help kick start work on nine critical flood protection schemes.
The £5.5million investment will protect 860 homes across South Yorkshire, as well as ensuring that infrastructure including Sheffield Midland and Rotherham rail stations, major road and rail and Supertram networks, are resilient to flooding in the future. The investment will also bring forward more measures to protect communities from surface water flooding across Doncaster and renew or improve culverts around Barnsley and the Dearne.
In a joint letter to the Secretary of State, for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, Mayor Dan Jarvis and the four South Yorkshire leaders urge the Government to match their commitment in order to get the works moving and provide the remaining £36 million at the Spending Review to ensure that the nine schemes are completed swiftly.
As well as making the investment in these critical flood defences, the Combined Authority has also gained a significant commitment from the Environment Agency, to include all but one of the 27 schemes detailed in the South Yorkshire Flood Response Plan in the agency’s indicative future programme of works. The Authority is pressing the Government to prioritise this programme as a matter of urgency.
Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “The impact of the floods goes beyond material and economic damage, it carries a human cost of lives disrupted, homes abandoned, futures made uncertain and full of hardship. There are still dozens of families who have not been able to return to their homes and are living in temporary accommodation following the 2019 floods. The dangers of flooding have not subsided, only last week, once again we saw the effects flooding has on whole communities with towns and villages flooded across Yorkshire.
“I’ve fought tirelessly for the Government to work with us to develop a plan which will keep the whole of South Yorkshire safe from a repeat of the devastation last winter. That’s why I’m pleased, that working with the four Local Authority leaders, we are aiming to bring forward nine shovel ready flood protection schemes as part of our wider Flooding Response Plan. We stand ready to deliver these nine flood protection schemes and will invest £5.5 million to protect our residents and businesses. We are putting our money where our mouth is – but now we need the Government to do the same at the Spending Review.
“At the long-awaited flooding summit last month with Ministers, there was consensus to support more flood protection initiatives in South Yorkshire. We will continue to work closely with the four local authorities and the Environment Agency to deliver these schemes, and I am pleased that the majority of our 27 priority flood schemes are proposed for inclusion in the Environment Agency’s indicative future programme of works.
“This year has been full of challenges, but I continue to fight for our communities and work with Government to ensure that homes and businesses in South Yorkshire will be best protected from the devastation of flooding.”
Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “It’s good news that Barnsley has been able to work with Mayor Dan Jarvis and the three other South Yorkshire authorities to invest money in the crucial schemes to protect our residents and businesses from the effects of flooding.
“We cannot underestimate how devasting flooding is to people’s homes, their lives, their businesses and their health and wellbeing. I urge the government to recognise this and match our commitment in order to get the works moving to protect the residents of both Barnsley and wider South Yorkshire.”
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “The November 2019 floods devastated a number of our communities and our thoughts are with those residents still trying to get their lives back to some form of normality.
“We recently published the Section 19 Flood Investigation Report which sets out the causes and impact of the floods in each affected area. It recommends a plan of further action to enhance our future flood resilience as well as lessons which should be learnt from both our preparedness and our response to the floods.
“Lots of improvement work has been carried out over the last 12 months to provide greater resilience to flooding and our enhanced flood response plans mean we are better prepared as we head towards winter too.
“We are determined to work closely with the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority, the Environment Agency and our other key partners to help mitigate future risks and improve flood risk management. It is essential that we work together across the whole River Don catchment, from source to sea, so that we address root causes of flooding together.
“Solving the cause of flooding is often complex and some of the potential solutions are not quick fixes and can be costly to implement. Our Flood Recovery report highlighted how essential it is that National Government makes good on the promises given to Doncaster people last November to invest significantly in future flood protection and resilience that will sustainably address the challenges we face now and into the future.”
The Leader of Rotherham Council, Cllr Chris Read, said: “The Council, the businesses and the people of Rotherham certainly haven’t forgotten the suffering caused by last November’s floods and we need to ensure the Government isn’t allowed to forget either.
“We’ve worked with neighbouring Councils and the City Region to agree to invest £5.5million in nine critical flood protection schemes. These schemes will protect 860 homes across South Yorkshire, as well as ensuring that infrastructure, including Rotherham railway station, is resilient to flooding in the future.
“The South Yorkshire Councils have demonstrated that this is important to us as it is to our residents. Now we need the government to step up and ensure our area receives the funding it needs.”
Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Over the last few years we have invested heavily into flood defence schemes in Sheffield, to protect homes and businesses and save lives from the effects of severe flood incidents. Working with the Environment Agency we continue to build on this and construction work on our Upper Don Scheme is now well underway.
“However, even after completing defence schemes in Sheffield, we saw during the serious flooding last November, that more investment is needed. Collectively South Yorkshire was hard hit and the recovery process from such events can be long and costly, as well as being devastating to the individuals and businesses directly affected.
“We’ve stepped up as a region to protect our communities, but we need the Government to play their part, to act now and award the rightful funding recognising the importance of prevention over recovery.”