Millions more needed for flood protection - report

SCHEMES COSTING £25m are needed to improve protection for homes in businesses in West Yorkshire and York following last winter's devastating floods, according to a new report.

The Kirkstall Road area of Leeds was one of the worst hit

A review of the impact of the floods found projects costing £5m a year for the next five years could help improve flood protection while larger and longer term schemes are developed.

It put the cost of damage from the Boxing Day floods in the Leeds City Region area at more than £500m including the £100m cost of repairing bridges, roads and Yorkshire Water facilities.

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More than 4,000 homes and 2,900 businesses were flooded as more rain fell in 24 hours than would be expected in the whole of December.

The report says: “Whilst the flooding brought no loss of life this was not due to the scale of the disaster but a combination of outstanding emergency work and timing; as the floods happened on a Bank Holiday when schools and businesses were closed and travel at a minimum such as Kirkstall Road in Leeds which was devoid of its usual 12,000 commuters.”

The report estimates that more than 12,000 homes and businesses in the area are at a “high risk” of flooding.

In the aftermath of the winter floods, the Government promised extra funding taking the total to be spent on defences in the area over the next five years to more than £200m.

The review carried out by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership suggests there are further projects which could “protect more communities, businesses and homes earlier” at a cost of £5m a year for five years.

Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift said: “The devastation caused across West Yorkshire last Boxing Day showed the severe impacts that can happen to places when flooding occurs, and therefore it is important that we continue to invest in the region’s flood defences to protect more businesses, more homes and more communities.

“Our Leeds City Region Flood Review has identified the need for at least an additional £25m of investment in flood defences and other flood mitigation and adaptation measures over the next five-years above and beyond the funding recently announced by Government.

“That work is crucial, which is why the Combined Authority is planning to commit £7.8m of this investment now to get that work underway on schemes in Mytholmroyd and Skipton and at Leeds South Bank which will protect a further 1,000-plus homes and 267 businesses from future flooding.

“This work will involve widening of the River Calder and raising walls in Mytholmroyd, creating upstream water storage areas and town centre floodwalls in Skipton and flooding protection measures at Leeds South Bank.”

Meanwhile, the latest proposals to reduce the risk of flooding in Cottingham and the Orchard Park area of Hull have been unveiled.

The scheme, the latest phase of work following floods nine years ago, will see the creation of eight lagoons that will resemble grazing areas but will fill with water during extreme weather.

Residents will have the chance to learn more about the plans and offer their comments at a series of exhibitions over the next two weeks.

East Riding Council leader Stephen Parnaby said: “The 2007 floods affected so many people in the East Riding.

“These alleviation schemes are incredibly important to help protect these areas from the threat of further flooding.”