Government has 'failed to prepare' for future floods, MP claims, ahead of parliamentary debate

The Government will finally meet leaders of South Yorkshire areas stricken by devastating flooding nearly a year ago, following repeated pleas to speed up investment in defences.

The long-awaited flooding summit will convene at last on October 8, after Environment Secretary George Eustice promised the meeting on a visit to flooded areas hit again in February.

And the confirmation comes as a flooding debate is due to be held in Parliament today.

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Barnsley Central MP and Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis has been demanding a top-level meeting since November last year.

Glyn Davies and Jo Davies in their caravan. Flood victims forced to flee their homes in last year's "biblical" deluge face indefinite isolation in caravans after the coronavirus lockdown put on a halt on repair works. Photo: SWNSGlyn Davies and Jo Davies in their caravan. Flood victims forced to flee their homes in last year's "biblical" deluge face indefinite isolation in caravans after the coronavirus lockdown put on a halt on repair works. Photo: SWNS
Glyn Davies and Jo Davies in their caravan. Flood victims forced to flee their homes in last year's "biblical" deluge face indefinite isolation in caravans after the coronavirus lockdown put on a halt on repair works. Photo: SWNS

He said: “It is better late than never that the long-awaited South Yorkshire flooding summit will now take place, but the residents, businesses and communities that were battered by the floods last November have been waiting for far too long for this to happen.

“We have been pushing for this summit to take place for almost 12 months. It’s an issue that I have repeatedly raised in Parliament.

“But I’m pleased this will now take place next month.

“I would like to extend an invitation to the Prime Minister to join the summit and to see for himself our plans to improve the region’s flood defences and mitigation.”

The village of Fishlake, Doncaster, submerged under flood water. November 09, 2019. Photo: Tom Maddick/SWNSThe village of Fishlake, Doncaster, submerged under flood water. November 09, 2019. Photo: Tom Maddick/SWNS
The village of Fishlake, Doncaster, submerged under flood water. November 09, 2019. Photo: Tom Maddick/SWNS
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More than 1,000 homes and 564 businesses were affected by flooding, including in Fishlake and Bentley near Doncaster.

And Mr Jarvis is expected to say in Parliament today that not even half of the funding needed to protect South Yorkshire, as flooding season starts again, has been found.

He will say: “We are lucky to be a rich country with the means to help people, and to respond to this danger. But that requires us to recognise the challenge we face, deploy our resources as we need to, and to confront the longer-term causes of this crisis.

“And I deeply regret that this is something this Government has failed to do.”

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He will add: “We have to look to prevent the next flood, not just react to the last one.

“That requires investment.

“I have put together a detailed £271m priority programme to protect over 10,300 and 2,800 businesses homes across South Yorkshire.

“The projected return on this investment, just in terms of avoided damage, is £1.7bn.”

But he said this was still falling £175m short of the cash that was needed.

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Speaking to The Yorkshire Post Mr Jarvis add: “This is a costed, credible and affordable plan that we are stood by to deliver.

“We now need to see the same commitment from the Government.”

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson said: “We understand the heartbreak, devastation and disruption faced by communities when flooding hits and we are committed to making the country as resilient to flooding as possible.

“This is why we have already built 59 new flood defences in Yorkshire since 2015, better protecting 13,200 homes, and nationally we will double our investment to £5.2bn.

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“We will continue to work with local leaders and communities across Yorkshire to reduce the risks of flooding to as many people as possible.”

The confirmation date for the South Yorkshire flooding summit comes after campaigning by The Yorkshire Post and Mr Jarvis.

Previously in a letter sent to flooding minister Rebecca Pow, Mr Jarvis said the November floods had a devastating impact across many parts of South Yorkshire.

And he said coronavirus has added to the problems facing communities already hit hard by the floods.

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Work on homes in Fishlake was paused when the coronavirus pandemic hit, with many people staying away from home or in caravans.

While businesses such as Truffle Lodge spa had just managed to reopen before, the lockdown forced them to close their doors again.

The long-awaited flooding summit will look at preventing major floods like those that struck South Yorkshire last year.

The Government previously announced it would double its investment into flood prevention to £5.2bn over the next six years.

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Boris Johnson, who faced criticism for the time it took to visit flood hit areas last year, previously warned flooding would become more common as a consequence of climate change.

But he said as well as investing in defences the Government wanted to look at longer term solutions, such as planting more trees, to manage the environment better.

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