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FLOOD DEFENCE SPENDING BUDGET FOR YORKSHIRE AGREED

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Flood defence spending in Yorkshire will top£38m in 2002-3 following agreement by the Yorkshire regional flood def...
Flood defence spending in Yorkshire will top£38m in 2002-3 following agreement by the Yorkshire regional flood defence committee.

Local authority members on the committee voted for a 10 per cent increase in the levy on local authorities, which will contribute£19.9m to an overall spending budget of£38.7m. The rest is made up of government grants and contributions by internal drainage boards.

Committee chairman Roy Ward said: 'This budget will allow vital flood defence schemes, essential work on maintenance and development of flood warning systems to go ahead.

'Communities that suffered in the severe flooding in June and autumn 2000, such as Stockbridge at Keighley, Malton, Gowdall and Todmorden, can have confidence that schemes to protect their homes and businesses will carry on. I am pleased that there is money available to continue to strengthen defences in parts of the region that came very close to flooding, such as Wakefield.

'Other important works to protect lands around the Humber Estuary will go ahead and there will be almost a million spent on extending and improving the flood warning systems to reach a total of 221,000 properties in Yorkshire.'

Capital expenditure on works in the committee's area has grown from£7.6m in 1999-2000 to£13.8m this year with funding now provided of£20.3m for 2002-03. In addition,£3.8m of emergency works was carried out immediately following the floods in autumn 2000.

The extent of flooding in 2000 has also caused the Environment Agency to carry out a national review of the long term need for defences which has resulted in changes to long term plans. In Yorkshire, the agency's original estimate for capital investment needed by 2010 was£93m but this has now more than doubled to£208m.

'The committee has recognised the need for a long term approach to funding flood defence but the local authorities are currently bound by a funding system which is based on annual budgets,' said Roy Ward.

'Funding for flood defence is now being reviewed by government and it is vitally important that we can plan expenditure over a longer term, particularly when we are looking at multi-million pound schemes that take several years to complete.

'The committee understands the funding difficulties faced by local authorities and the need to keep tight control on spending funded from the council tax which we all pay. The 2000 floods affected many communities but tens of thousands more homes did not flood because they were protected by schemes built in the past.

'I am pleased that the committee has recognised that we need to maintain spending to protect people, their homes and the economy of the region and that the local authorities and central government must continue to do everything possible to ensure that flood defence spending is in line with need.'

Notes

The Yorkshire flood defence committee is made up of the following representatives: seven from local councils; two appointed by the Environment Agency; four appointed by DEFRA including the chairman. The two agency appointees are the chairmen of the other two statutory regional committees - the regional environment protection advisory committee and the regional fisheries, ecology & recreation advisory committee.

Brief details of key schemes:

Malton & Norton - on the River Derwent, suffered flooding in early 1999 and autumn 2000. Floodwalls and earth banks, strengthened with sheet piling will be constructed.

Gowdall - on the River Aire, near Snaith, suffered prolonged flooding in autumn 2000. Longer-term repair works to an existing flood bank in addition to works already carried out in 2001 to support damaged defences.

Stockbridge - on the River Aire at Keighley, many homes were flooded in autumn 2000. A scheme to raise earth banks and improve existing defences will be undertaken.

Wakefield - the city centre came within inches of flooding in autumn 2000. Work is underway already on the floodwalls and to improve the washlands (areas of land alongside rivers that are allowed to flood to relieve the potential for flooding in urban areas). In 02-03, work will begin on Ings Beck to improve bridges and culverts and to provide floodwater storage upstream of the city.

Todmorden - on the River Calder flooded in June 2000. A planning application by the Agency to provide relief for flooding within a parkland was recently turned down by the planning committee. Proposals are now being reviewed.

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