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Sheffield to pilot flood defence self-financing

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Sheffield City Council has been chosen by the Government to pilot a self-financed approach to flood defence.

A report by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that if successful this could be applied to other core cities.

Defra is to convene a group of business leaders and technical experts to look at “how we can design new defences which will deliver, and be financed from the proceeds of, economic value for the local area.

“We will be working with Sheffield to enable the city to identify development of a type that will beautify the cityscape, unlock opportunities for urban regeneration and fit with local development priorities.”

Better flood defences would make land usable for development that otherwise would not be, so increasing its value and helping to pay for the protective measures.

Sheffield’s cabinet member for environment Bryan Lodge (Lab) said: “Ultimately this is about protecting our communities and businesses. If we simply do nothing we leave the city vulnerable to the devastating effects of flooding, like we saw in 2007.”

The report through offended Leeds City Council, whose leader Judith Blake (lab) said: “Leeds is barely mentioned in this report which really does smack of the government not taking the risk here seriously.”

She said minister had promised flood protection along part of the River Aire but “the silence on this is becoming increasingly concerning”.

The National Flood Resilience Review draws lessons from last winter’s floods.

Environment secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “This review sets out clear actions so we are better prepared to respond quickly in the event of future flooding and can strengthen the nation’s flood defences.

“We are absolutely committed to reducing the risk of flooding by investing £2.5bn up to 2021 so we can help protect families, homes and businesses this winter.”

LGA environment spokesman Martin Tett (Con) called for the devolution of flood defence funding to councils.

“This will enable councils, working with communities and businesses, to ensure money is directed towards projects that best reflect local needs,” he said.

“Councils know their local areas and are best placed to help families get back on their feet.”

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