Hull City Council cabinet members backed Environment Agency (EA) moves to draw up a new Flood Risk Management at a meeting yesterday (June 28).
Coun Dean Kirk, porfolio holder for flood prevention, said the legally required plan would be “crucial” for protecting the more than 100,000 homes at risk of flooding in Hull.
Council leader Daren Hale said Hull had “not done badly” in getting EA funding as it had one of the largest amounts of at risk properties in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Coun Kirk said the challenge around the EA flood defence programme would be ensuring its cost-benefit case “stacks up” to keep it in line with the Agency’s investment criteria.
Coun Hale said the council often faced “Hull envy” from others due to the funding it gets from the EA.
He added that was down to higher flood risks locally and also to the authority’s “brilliant” relationship with the Agency.
The council is required to handle community outreach under the management plan and to explore options for surface water drainage schemes and sustainable drainage systems (SUDS).
The EA is set to expand its early warning system for floods in Hull, maintain existing flood defences and investigate building new ones under the plan which runs until 2027.
It comes as the cabinet also approved a scheme to replace council buildings’ lighting with LED, costing around £1.25m in its first year, to help reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
But Housing Portfolio Holder Coun John Black said the target loomed as some drivers were reluctant to switch to electric cars over a current lack of charging points.
Environment Portfolio Holder Coun Rosie Nicola said the LED replacement scheme would show “we practice what we preach” after councillors declared a climate emergency in March 2019.
The scheme, backed by £340,000 in government decarbonisation funding, aims to cut back on 29 per cent of Hull’s annual energy consumption of 4.5TWh that comes from public and commercial buildings.
Previous works in Hull Ice Arena, Ferens Art Gallery, The Wilson Centre and others since 2018 have improved buildings’ energy efficiency by 30 per cent on average, council figures show.
The current scheme is set to run for the next three years and cost an estimated maximum of £3.5m.
Coun Hale also called for previous work into building a council run wind turbine to be brought back to the cabinet in the next three months.
The leader added the council would likely be about to purchase its last fleet of diesel powered rubbish collection vehicles also in a bid to cut carbon emissions.
But he said electric vehicle technology and the availability of charging points in Hull and elsewhere would need to move “very fast” in the meantime.
Coun Hale said: “It appears that the country is falling into two or three camps when it comes to renewables. One is hoping the technology comes along and another is waiting for government which doesn’t appear to be stepping up to the mark. People can’t have cars they can’t use, so we’ll need more electric charging points here and elsewhere too.”
Coun Black said he was unsure whether Hull would be able to cope with a mass switch to electric vehicles given the lack of charging points.
The portfolio holder said: “I went on a bike ride down Bilton Grange and Longhill and I was struck by the congestion, cars were queuing bumper to bumper. In 10 years time, how are all these people going to be able to charge their cars up?
“I’m sure there’s an answer but I don’t know it, and the general public are asking. It’s one of the big issues people have when they talk about buying an electric car, they don’t know where’d they’d charge them.”
Cabinet members also approved plans to buy 1,000 laptops under its Every Child Connected programme, which aims to ensure all school pupils have a device by September.
The purchase of the laptops, using £250,000 from the council’s coronavirus Outbreak Management Plan, will reduce the estimated total number of pupils without one from the current 2,681 to 1,681.