Sheffield faces anxious wait over £64m for flood defences

Sheffield's lord mayor Coun Anne Murphy unveils a plaque commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 2007 flood
Sheffield's lord mayor Coun Anne Murphy unveils a plaque commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 2007 flood
0
Have your say

A decade after floods devastated Sheffield, £64m is still being sought to protect the city from a similar catastrophe.

Sheffield Council estimated following the deadly deluge of June 25, 2007 that £83m was required for flood defences to safeguard the city.

James Mead, of the Environment Agency, at the Nursery Street pocket park in Sheffield

James Mead, of the Environment Agency, at the Nursery Street pocket park in Sheffield

A £19m project to protect businesses along an 8km stretch of the Lower Don Valley between the Wicker and the M1 at Meadowhall - partly funded by the firms themselves - is set to be completed later this year.

But that still leaves £64m needed to protect homes and businesses elsewhere in the city, including an estimated £53 for flood defences in the Upper Don, Porter Brook and Sheaf valleys.

The Government has earmarked £23m, which has yet to be confirmed, but the council has applied for more money and expects to hear within the next few months whether it has been successful.

At a ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the flood, the Environment Agency - which is working with the council to develop flood defence plans and secure funding - told how investment in flood defences represented 'very good value for money'.

Flooding at a playground in Oughtibridge in 2007 (Photo by Andrew Calow)

Flooding at a playground in Oughtibridge in 2007 (Photo by Andrew Calow)

James Mead, the EA's senior flood risk advisor for Sheffield, said: "There's been significant investment in Sheffield and we're in a much stronger position than we were in 2007.

"But there's still a need to invest and improve the standard of protection in other areas of the city. Those schemes are well underway in terms of technical development, and there's a lot of work going on to secure the funding to get them delivered.

"Flood risk investment is very good value for money because the huge cost of flooding to the local and even national economy."

Two people died in the 2007 flood, which left hundreds of people homeless and many businesses counting the cost.

Sheffield Council has since worked with the Environment Agency and the River Stewardship Company to clear rivers of the debris which exacerbated the 2007 flood by blocking the flow of water.

It also worked with Sheffield Chamber of Commerce to set up the Business Improvement District (BID) responsible for the Lower Don Valley defences, including raised walls, new flood gates and embankments.

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said: "We are doing all that we can to reduce the risk of flooding on such a huge scale in this city, and to ensure that we protect our residents, homes and businesses from any future devastation."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 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."

Sheffield's Lord mayor Anne Murphy and Councillor Jackie Drayton today unveiled a plaque commemorating the flood in Nursery Street pocket park, beside the River Don and close to the Wicker which was badly hit.

The park is part of the city's flood defences, having been designed to store water during heavy rainfall and prevent roads being inundated.

Ryan Parry, aged 14, was killed in 2007 after being swept away by a swollen river in Millhouses Park, and 68-year-old Peter Harding died when he was washed under rising waters on the Wicker.

Coun Drayton paid her respects to them and also praised the spirit shown in the aftermath of the flood which she said showed how Sheffielders 'stand together at times of adversity'.

As well as the work along the Lower Don Valley, which began in 2014 and is set to be completed this year, there are five other flood alleviation schemes planned across Sheffield.

The biggest two are along the River Sheaf and Porter Brook, and in the Upper Don, the combined bill for which has been estimated at £53m. They include controversial proposals to build embankments to create flood storage areas in the Rivelin and Loxley valleys.

The other projects in the pipeline are a £3m scheme to renew underground channels, the £2.8m Three Brooks scheme to reduce the flood risk in Manor and Arbourthorne, and the £2.3m Blackburn Brook scheme to protect homes and businesses in Chapeltown and Ecclesfield.

All these projects are still being developed, meaning costs could change, and they are subject to funding being secured.

WHAT FLOOD DEFENCE WORK HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND WHAT IS IN THE PIPELINE?

Lower Don Valley: £19m spent on more than 60 flood prevention measures along an 8km stretch of the River Don between the Wicker and Meadowhall at the M1. Set for completion later this year

Upper Don, Porter Brook and Sheaf: Estimated £53m needed for plans including the construction of riverside walls and additional flood storage areas. Still in development. Funding not yet approved

Improvements to underground channels: Estimated £3m needed to repair existing culverted watercourses. Funding not yet approved

Three Brooks: Estimated £2.8m needed to enhance protection in Manor and Arbourthorne. Still in development. Funding not yet approved

Blackburn Brook: Estimated £2.3m needed to improve protection in Chapeltown and Ecclesfield. Still in development. Funding not yet approved