Sheffield Council forced to defend £93 million flood prevention plans, as expert brands them 'waste of money'

Flooding in Sheffield in 2007
Flooding in Sheffield in 2007
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Sheffield Council has defended its £93 million flood prevention plans after an environmental expert branded them a 'waste of money'.

The estimated cost of remaining work to prevent a repeat of the devastating 2007 deluge leapt by nearly half from the £64m previously quoted, as the council revealed its preferred options last month.
Professor Ian Rotherham, an environmental specialist at Sheffield Hallam University, described the latest proposals as 'completely misconceived, ill-founded and an enormous waste of money'.

Graham Appleby in Rivelin Valley, where there are plans to create a flood storage area

Graham Appleby in Rivelin Valley, where there are plans to create a flood storage area

Graham Appleby, chairman of the Rivelin Valley Conservation Group also criticised plans for a flood storage area to hold water at Roscoe during heavy rainfall, saying this would 'devastate' wildlife in the area and make it harder for the public to access.

Bryan Lodge, the council's cabinet member for the environment, claimed there was a lot of misunderstanding about the proposals and assured people they would be consulted on the detailed plans.

"If we don't do anything the water will come down and flood through these valleys and cause problems anyway. We're trying to manage the flows," he said.

"We will support environmental projects and do what we can to improve the areas and protect various historical elements."

Councillor Bryan Lodge

Councillor Bryan Lodge

The plan to hold water at Roscoe appears to be the most controversial element of wide-ranging proposals to protect the city from flooding.

The council is in talks with Yorkshire Water about using existing reservoirs to manage the flow of water during torrential downpours, which could remove the need for a flood storage area at Roscoe.

But even if that is not possible, Coun Lodge says the impact at Roscoe will not be as severe as some have claimed.

"We want to reassure people we're not planning to build a huge embankment the height of three double-decker buses," he said.

Professor Ian Rotherham

Professor Ian Rotherham

"Over the last few years, there have probably only been one or two occasions when these proposed flood storage areas would have been used to slow the flow of water.

"If we don't do anything, the cost of flooding to businesses and homeowners could be huge and people's lives could be put at risk."

The council has said it is in talks with Sheffield City Region and the Government as it seeks to secure funding for the work, which it plans to carry out in stages as the money becomes available.

Professor Rotherham, former director of the Ecological Advisory Service for Sheffield Council, was quoted as saying about the plans: "I think something needs to be done about flood-proofing the city, but I don’t think this is it. This is what I describe as working against the grain of nature rather than with the grain of nature.

"I think it has a negative impact and appears to be completely misconceived, ill-founded and an enormous waste of money."

Work is due to be completed next month on the first major phase of the city's flood defence improvements, a £19 million project to protect businesses and homes along the Lower Don Valley.