Council leaders urge government to help with £200m funding gap in flood defences in South Yorkshire

Oliver CoppardOliver Coppard
Oliver Coppard
The South Yorkshire mayor has said he’s trying to put pressure on the government about a £200million hole in the region’s flood defences budget following Storm Babet’s “devastating” impact.

Oliver Coppard told the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) board that he had written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to request further funding support to accelerate the delivery of flood defences, flood mitigation and resilience schemes across the region.

A supporting document said there was a £206m funding gap in the Connected by Water Action Plan of which £19m would be needed for schemes to be completed by 2027.

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Storm Babet caused flooding in several areas of South Yorkshire over the weekend of 20-22 October. In Catcliffe, Rotherham, 130 homes were flooded when a month’s worth of rainfall fell over 36 hours in some areas.


Cllr Chris Read, the leader of Rotherham Council, said: “The impact on Catcliffe in particular was devastating for 100+ families.

“The council continues to have staff on the ground working every day still in the community and will be there for the foreseeable future.”

He added he wanted to maintain the pressure on the government on the “significant funding gap in the regional plan” and said he hadn’t realised “how much flood defence funding had been cut” by the government nationally in the last 13 years.

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A report added that the River Rother reached its highest recorded level in Catcliffe of 30.53m. This exceeded the previous highest level of 30.37m reached during the 2007 floods and overtopped the existing flood defences.

Flooding in Catcliffe, near RotherhamFlooding in Catcliffe, near Rotherham
Flooding in Catcliffe, near Rotherham

Families and businesses – including a gypsy and traveller site – in Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield were also affected by the floods.

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones added they were not funded properly in order to create proper flood defences.

Cllr Tom Hunt, the leader of Sheffield council, said his heart “goes out to everyone who has been affected”.

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He said he welcomed the letter the South Yorkshire mayor sent to the government and hoped the government would listen to them and the residents.

Cllr Hunt added: “The flood assistant schemes should operate on a catchment basis rather than a local authority basis – when a river floods it doesn’t care which side of the local authority border you’re in.

“It’s not fair for people who live on one side, just because of a relatively small number, not eligible for flood assistance.”

The government said funding for flood defences had increased with more than 374,000 homes better protected since 2015. It said it was also delivering £5.2 billion investment to better protect hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.