Sheffield residents will pay the price unless Government acts on flooding, warns MP
A Sheffield MP has warned of a “disaster waiting to happen” following a damning report on floods.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee says there is increasing strain on existing flood defences and only half of the defences damaged in the 2019-20 winter floods have had their protection restored.
The Environment Agency is predicting an increase of up to 50 per cent in the number of houses built on flood plains over the next 50 years.
And responsibility for surface water flooding, worsened by developments in urban areas, sits with local councils but they are struggling with budget cuts and low levels of private sector investment are hampering flooding response.
Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake, who sits on the committee, said: “These findings will be of great concern to communities in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, who have had their lives and livelihoods turned upside down by increased flooding in recent years.
“Despite the best efforts of Sheffield Council to protect homes and improve flood defences, this report shows that already scarce local authority budgets, stretched further by the pandemic, are hampering proper flood protection across the country.
“The climate emergency is only going to increase these erratic weather patterns, so it is vital that the government urgently ensure proper funding and fix the gaps in flooding risk assessment and protections, so we can prevent further damage to our communities.
“It is unacceptable that only half of the defences damaged in the 2019-20 winter floods – which saw 1,500 buildings in South Yorkshire flooded – have had their standard of protection restored.
“This is a disaster waiting to happen and communities in South Yorkshire will pay the price.”
The committee says planning policy should be strengthened to avoid new builds in areas prone to flooding wherever possible. It wants sustainable drainage systems in new developments and changes to building regulations to include mandatory flood protection measures such as raised electrical sockets, fuse boxes and sealed floors.