‘Never again’ - £56 million scheme to stop ‘devastating’ repeat of 2007 floods

Sheffield Floods at The Wicker in 2007
Sheffield Floods at The Wicker in 2007
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A £56 million scheme to ensure Sheffield is ‘never again’ devastated by flooding which wrecked businesses and killed two people in 2007 is set to be introduced.

A total of 6,000 households and 2,000 businesses are at risk of flooding over the next 50 years – a potentially ‘catastrophic’ situation which could cost the city £1 billion in damages, Sheffield Council has revealed. Floods in 2007 swept through the city, with workers rescued from building roofs by helicopter and emergency crews using boats to pull residents from their homes in Chapeltown, Ecclesfield, Loxley, Manor, Arbourthorne and near the city centre.

Two people were killed, and several businesses were forced to close for months and even years. The Gardener’s Rest pub in Neepsend Lane, Neepsend, did not reopen its doors for two years, such was the damage to the building.

Money for the six schemes in the new flood management project – one of which has already been started – will come from a mixture of private investment, business contributions and central Government grants.

Improvements will be made to culverts, drainage and defences along the River Sheaf, the Upper and Lower Don, on the Manor and to the Blackburn Brook around Ecclesfield.

Businesses and residents across the city welcomed news of the new defences.

Duncan Shaw, manager of The Fat Cat pub on Alma Street, Kelham Island, said: “It’s a good idea. Whenever there’s heavy rain, you can see people in the area looking nervously at the water levels.

“I started as manager here three months after the floods and we were still clearing up the damage then.”

Coun Jack Scott, council cabinet member for environment, said: “As we saw in June 2007, flooding devastates communities and can ruin homes and businesses.

“We at Sheffield Council are absolutely determined to do all we can to ensure flooding on this scale never happens again in our city.

“Studies have predicted that, over the next 50 years, around 6,000 households and 2,000 businesses in our city will be at risk of flooding, due to climate change.

“This potential impact could come at an economic cost of £1bn to Sheffield – as well as proving catastrophic for residents.

“Earlier this year, we were invited by the Government to submit preliminary investment requirements for inclusion in the national Flood Risk Management Grant in Aid programme for 2015 to 2021.

“We have now registered this list of six schemes to be included in that programme, and will be pressing ahead with these plans – together costing some £56m – to do our very best to prevent Sheffield from flooding, now and into the future.”

Steve Wilson, Sheffield councillor for East Ecclesfield, said: “Flooding devastated people’s lives, not just for a few days but for months and months, so this has to be welcome, and hopefully it will stop that in the future.”