Call for Government to match funding for South Yorkshire flooding plan

Leaders in South Yorkshire have demanded that the Government match flooding investment to mark one year on from the devastating deluge that hit the region last November.

Monday, 9th November 2020, 5:45 am

More than 1,000 homes and 565 businesses were hit by the flooding last year, with many still out of their properties.

And despite a summit held between leaders and the Government last month, leaders warned there was still a £125m funding gap if properties are to be protected in the future.

Sheffield City Region has already agreed to invest £5.5m to 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.

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis. Photo: JPI Media

But Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis and the four South Yorkshire leaders are now urging Environment Secretary George Eustice to match their commitment in order to get the works moving and provide the remaining £36m at the Spending Review to ensure that the nine schemes are completed swiftly.

Mr 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.”

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post’s political podcast Pod’s Own Country, Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock said: “Because it all happened in the middle of a General Election, it's all very well to stand there in your wellies and speak to the cameras making promises.

“People are reasonable, and they understand things take time and understand you can't just sort it out overnight, but we are a year on, we're now approaching the winter, we're in November, and there will be areas at risk of flooding. And while it will take some years to perhaps get those long term defences in, it's not just about money, it's about how we spend that money, and it's about the coordination.”

Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said it was impossible to underestimate how “devastating” flooding was.

While Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “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.”

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “Since 2015, we’ve invested more in flood defences for Yorkshire than any other region. £496m has been spent to better protect more than 66,000 properties, while £12.8m has been specifically invested in South Yorkshire for recovery and repairs to defences following last winter’s flooding.

“Looking ahead, we are investing a record £5.2bn over six years in 2,000 new flood defences, and the Environment Agency is working with local representatives in South Yorkshire to ensure the area receives its share.”