Yorkshire flooding fears as crucial report is delayed

Flooding in Leeds, 2015
Flooding in Leeds, 2015
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A MAJOR report into preventing flooding has been delayed prompting fears over the Government’s commitment to protecting the region.

Senior council leaders have written to Prime Minister Theresa May seeking assurances following the delay of the publication of the Flood Resilience Review, which was expected in July.

Flooding in Leeds last December. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Flooding in Leeds last December. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The review was announced after last winter’s catastrophic floods which affected York, Leeds and the Calder Valley and was intended to assess how the region could be better protected from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather. There are added concerns a delay towards autumn would leave less time to make any short-term changes ahead of the winter season. It is the latest blow for the thousands of victims hit by flooding after the Government scrapped the role of flood tsars this summer.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves accused the Government of “dithering and delay”, and said: “The Government has badly let down my constituents and many others across the country who are struggling to get new insurance quotes and rebuild their lives after the devastating floods. The Environment Secretary needs to get a grip on the situation and ensure the review is published as soon as possible.”

Leeds Council leader Judith Blake and Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift have both written a joint letter to Mrs May about the progress of the review.

The letter says: “We are keen to understand the current status of the National Flood Resilience Review. This review was critical to understanding how we can better protect our communities and businesses from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather events.”

Coun Blake told The Yorkshire Post that any delay was a concern, especially for residents and businesses in Leeds affected by Storm Eva. She is also requesting urgent talks to press for confirmation of previously promised funding for a flood defence scheme for Leeds where about 2,000 homes and 500 businesses were affected on Boxing Day.

She added: “We saw the Government cancel funding for flood defences proposed in 2011, and we can’t let that happen again.”

Coun Swift said the review was critical for long-term planning, adding: “We are concerned about the delay and whether the new Government is as committed as the previous one.”

The Yorkshire Post understands the delays in the report’s publication are due to the political changes after the Brexit vote and the departure of David Cameron. Although its findings were expected in July, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it had always said the report would be published in the summer - which could mean up to the end of September.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, the chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee, is also writing to the Government over the delay.