Progress made on flood prevention in Yorkshire and the Humber - Environment Secretary George Eustice

Yorkshire has experienced devastating flooding events in recent years, with significant flood events in 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2019, and 2020.

In November 2019, a month’s worth of rain fell across South Yorkshire in 24 hours. The River Don overtopped, with over 1,500 properties flooding in villages including Fishlake. Earlier this year, Storm Franklin brought heavy rainfall leading to flooding in Tadcaster when the River Wharfe burst its banks.

A changing climate means that we are seeing more of these extreme weather events, so we must redouble our efforts to build a more resilient nation. In recent years, we have made real progress.

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When it comes to investment in flood defences, we have targeted money at those areas likely to be hardest hit by flooding events. Our £2.6bn six-year programme of work, 2015-2021, has exceeded its original targets and protected over 314,000 homes nationally.

Fishlake under water after floods in November 2019. Picture: Tom Maddick / SWNS.

More than 850 new flood and coastal erosion defence projects have been completed, and over 580,000 acres of agricultural land have been protected. Thousands of businesses, communities and major infrastructure is better defended from the effects of flooding, with a reduced national flood risk of around five per cent. It is estimated that the programme has saved the economy in the region of £28bn in avoided damage to homes and businesses.

Yorkshire has consistently been a top priority for investment in flood defences. Since 2015, we have invested more in flood defences for Yorkshire than any other region – with £530m being spent to reduce the risk of flooding to more than 83,000 properties. That includes the £41m Mytholmroyd Flood Alleviation Scheme, reducing flood risk to 400 homes and businesses.

We are also taking action to protect the region from major tidal surge flooding incidents on the East Coast and Humber Estuary. The Hull Frontage Scheme is a £42m flood defence upgrade of the defences along the edge of the Humber Estuary, protecting the city of Hull from tidal flooding.

The Hull Frontages are reducing flood risk for 113,000 homes and non-residential properties, with upgraded defences at locations including St Andrew’s Quay Retail Park and Victoria Dock Village.

In York, we have upgraded the Foss Barrier – reducing flood risk to 2,000 local homes and businesses – and fitted a larger gate which has already been successfully deployed many times.

We know that surface water flooding causes huge problems so between 2015-2021, we invested over £50m in surface water flood storage areas to the west of Hull.

We know that there is more to do – and that every property that floods is a property too many.

That is why we have committed to doubling our investment in flood defences to £5.2bn in the 2021-2027 spending period. We have already announced the first tranche of schemes to benefit from this funding – with Yorkshire again receiving more money than any other region.

We have allocated over £146m to 150 flood schemes across the four counties in Yorkshire, including £4.4m to the development of a scheme in Hebden Bridge that will provide greater protection to around 400 properties. I also want to reiterate my commitment to supporting those areas that have experienced repeated flooding in recent years.

We have already carried out a call for evidence to look at changes to the flood funding formula to help those communities that have been frequently flooded – including areas such as Shipley – by strengthening the assessment of local circumstances when allocating funding. I will be saying more about this in the coming weeks.

All of this work builds on wider actions that we have taken. In addition to new defence schemes, we have invested to repair damaged flood defences. For example, after the 2019/20 winter floods, we spent £32m on a programme of repairs across Yorkshire.

We have also made improvements to the Flood Re scheme, a UK-wide scheme that helps homes at risk of flooding get insurance. This includes helping households claim extra money to install property flood resilience measures such as flood doors.

We have made huge progress in Yorkshire and the Humber in the last six years, and I am determined that we will continue to do so.

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