Press release from the Environment Agency
Today (4 April) marks 100 days since the devastating floods hit many communities across Yorkshire – when the country experienced the wettest December since records began in 1910 and the rainfall led to record-breaking levels in the rivers Aire, Calder and Foss.
Over the past 100 days Environment Agency teams have been working around the clock, carrying out an extensive repair programme worth in the region of £24 million. This includes the removal of collapsed bridges along the River Calder, gravel clearance and thousands of inspections.
Assessments of nearly 8,500 flood defences have been carried out to identify what repairs are needed – with around 900 identified as needing some form of repair. More than 100 have already been completed and a further 300 are currently underway with the aim of getting all complete before the next winter.
Work continues to identify what more can be done to reduce the risk of flooding in the future. Flood Support Officers have visited more than 150 communities around Yorkshire to provide advice and hear from those affected and a further 16,000 properties have been added to the free flood warning service.
Phil Younge, major incident recovery manager, said:
“The floods of December 2015 had a terrible impact on peoples’ lives, homes and businesses across the county. Many residents and businesses are not yet back in their properties.
“The job we have before us, of getting our defences back in a condition they were prior to flooding, is a huge challenge, but our teams are working tirelessly to restore protection to communities.
“We welcome the government’s recent announcement of £115 million to increase flood resilience across the Calder Valley, Leeds and York. This is in addition to £265 million we are already investing between now and 2021 to better protect 108,000 properties against flooding and coastal erosion.
“Approximately 16,000 more properties have signed up to our free flood warning service since the December floods, which is great news. However, we continue to urge people to sign up to this free service as only one fifth of all properties at risk of flooding in Yorkshire currently receive flood warnings.”
Floods Minister Rory Stewart said:
“Boxing Day’s floods hit Yorkshire hard. Homes and businesses were deluged and many people were forced from their homes but it was inspiring how volunteers, emergency services and local authorities rallied together to help those in need.
“Since that day Environment Agency teams have worked tirelessly to help communities recover, from upgrading the Foss Barrier to removing tonnes of debris and clearing collapsed buildings and bridges.
“Work on future flood protection for Yorkshire is well underway, looking at placing multi-million pound engineering solutions down-stream, alongside natural flood management measures up stream.”
The 100 day milestone comes as a further £115 million was announced by Government for flood defence schemes in Leeds, York and the Calder Valley, which were badly affected in the December floods.
The focus of this funding is on schemes that will help communities at highest risk and areas where new defences will have the greatest impact on supporting economic growth, particularly in areas that were affected in December.
In Calderdale £35 million will be made available to investigate and progress options to reduce flooding at various sites including Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge.
Work has already started on an action plan for flood defences in Mytholmroyd, which is to be completed by May 2016, and an outline business case is being developed for Hebden Bridge looking at a range of options to reduce the risk of flooding in the town. This is expected to be completed by early 2017.
The Environment Agency is currently working with risk management authorities, local communities and partner organisations as part of a local flood partnership to develop a shared view on priorities for the area and deliver a catchment plan to reduce flood risk for the whole Calder Valley. The plan, which is expected to be completed by October 2016, will both build on work done to date and include a review of the recent flooding