Sheffield faces £41m shortfall for flood protection schemes

Plans to protect Sheffield from a repeat of the devastating flooding that caused two deaths in 2007 face a £41m funding shortfall.

Flooding in Sheffield in 2007

The combined estimated cost of six schemes planned for the city is £83m.

While the first £19m project covering the Lower Don Valley area of the city is almost finished and £23m of Government funding has been provisionally granted for the other five schemes, there is still a major shortfall in the funds required - while it has been warned the cost of doing the work could prove to be even greater than currently predicted.

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It comes after council leader Julie Dore wrote to then-Prime Minister David Cameron in January 2016 to warn that stretched council budgets meant the Government would need to provide more support to the city in building flood defences.

“We need government to work with us to ensure our city is prepared and protected. Protection is cheaper than cure,” she said at the time.

Ahead of the tenth anniversary of the 2007 floods this weekend, a spokesman for Sheffield Council said extra funding is needed to make the schemes a reality.

One of the outstanding schemes is for flood alleviation work on the River Sheaf, where schoolboy Ryan Parry drowned during the 2007 floods.

A spokesperson for Sheffield City Council said: “At this stage, the proposed flood protection programme for Sheffield, which is made up of six individual schemes, is estimated to cost in the region of £83m.

“However, it must be stressed that most of these schemes are at a very early stage and, as with all huge infrastructure projects, costs could change once detailed plans are drawn up and progressed.

“The council is working closely with central Government to secure funds, so we can get on and build the defences, protect our city and secure the benefits they will bring.

“We look forward to progressing our plans further, once we have a funding commitment which can make the schemes a reality.”

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said: “We will invest £23m over six years to improve flood defences in Sheffield, on top of the £19m we have already spent on better protecting families, businesses and communities in the city.

“And if a flood does happen, we’re prepared – the Environment Agency has 250 high volume pumps that can be moved quickly around the country, four times the amount of mobile flood defences to last year, and up to 1,200 soldiers on 24-hour standby to help if needed.”

The new Government manifesto continues to back plans for £2.5bn investment in flood protection across the country over six years. The money will support more than 1,500 flood defence schemes, protecting 300,000 properties by 2021.

At an event in Sheffield today, a plaque will be unveiled to mark the tenth anniversary of the floods in 2007.

The plaque will be unveiled at the Nursery Street riverside park.

James Mead, Environment Agency senior flood risk advisor, said: "With 10 years since the devastating floods of 2007, we continue to work with Sheffield Council and invest in the city, not just in improving flood defences but in better maintenance, improving our flood warning service and promoting flood awareness.

"As the Lower Don Valley flood alleviation scheme cones to fruition we are looking forward to working with our partners to further reduce the risk of flooding across the city."