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Prime Minister announces funding to boost flood protection

Prime Minister announces funding to boost flood protection

Published at 7:05pm 3rd January 2016. (Updated at 10:26am 5th January 2016)

More than £40 million is going to be spent on rebuilding and improving flood defences in Yorkshire following Storm Eva.

£10 million of the new funding package will be set aside to improve the Foss Barrier protecting York, which was overwhelmed at the height of Storm Eva.

The remaining money will be used to repair defences on the Wharfe, Calder, Aire, Ouse and Derwent, including repairs to pumping and barriers and clearing blockages in rivers.

Further detailed work will be carried out along all affected rivers and it's believed that the overall bill will top £40 million, once the full damage is identified.

David Cameron said: "I have seen at first-hand the devastation caused by flooding. And that’s why this work to repair and improve flood defences is so vital.

"We are already spending £280 million over the next six years to protect thousands of houses from flooding in Yorkshire as part of our £2.3 billion investment to protect 300,000 houses across the country.

"But now more than £40 million will be spent to fix those defences overwhelmed by the record rainfall we’ve seen in recent weeks and to make them more resilient to further bad weather."

The Prime Minister has also pledged that the Government will support charities helping those caught up in the Boxing Day floods by matching every pound of the first £2 million raised.

It follows a similar pledge made to community foundations in Cumbria and Lancashire in the aftermath of Storm Desmond.

Applications for areas affected by Storm Eva can be made by any registered charities which are currently running a fundraising appeal for flood relief.

In addition, there will be grants to reimburse fire and rescue services which have incurred excessive costs protecting flooded communities.

The flooding response in Yorkshire will be overseen by Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, who has been appointed as the flooding envoy to the region.

His role will complement the work of Flooding Minister Rory Stewart as envoy for Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumberland.

Mr Goodwill has been tasked with:

  • Understanding the impact of flooding in affected areas, especially weaknesses exposed.
  • Tracking progress towards recovery and reporting directly to the Prime Minister.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of multi-agency joint working in affected areas, for both response and recovery.
  • Identifying lessons learned.

Robert Goodwill and Rory Stewart will report to the Flood Recovery Committee chaired by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark.

Mr Goodwill said: "The effects of the flooding in Yorkshire have been devastating and my thoughts are with every person affected by the catastrophic weather we have seen sweep across the North of England this December.

"As a Yorkshireman, I am determined to ensure I do everything I can to help protect communities in this area from the devastation flooding can cause. This is about ensuring people get the support they need as they repair their homes and rebuild their businesses."

Responding to the extra investment, Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: "Funding to repair flood defences is to be welcomed as a first step. We're keen to see the detail of exactly where and how this will be spent and how much will be available in Leeds, so residents and businesses can be offered some reassurance.

"We anticipate that the cost of recovery from the floods will exceed the funds laid out by the Government, as the effects of the damage unfold in the coming days and weeks.

"With efforts still focusing on clear-up operations and getting support packages for residents and businesses ready as quickly as possible so they can get back on their feet, our message remains clear. Leeds needs the best possible, comprehensive flood defences.

"We are seeking urgent talks with the Government about reinstating the flood defence scheme previously cancelled in 2011. This scheme would have given the city protection along the Aire between Woodlesford and Kirkstall.

"The extent of the devastation makes it perfectly clear that we need to take a longer term view than existing funding packages are offering. Although these deal with the immediate aftermath and are much-needed, we must have further significant investment so that Leeds has the flood defences that are appropriate for the UK's third largest city."