Flood defences 'too costly'

Flood defences 'too costly'
By Tony Earnshaw
Local Democracy Reporter

Thousands of homes across Kirklees are likely to remain at risk of being overwhelmed by river water because vital flood defences are “unaffordable”.

Experts fear the funding formula for the Government’s Flood Defence Grant in Aid programme (FDGiA) will not allow it to generate enough money to pay for what is needed.

Analysis of the location and size of flood risk across the borough’s 23 wards has identified more than 8,000 homes and 2,000 businesses as being at risk.

They risk flooding from two sources: fluvial (river) and surface water. 

Data is based on storms and other extreme weather that have a one per cent chance of occurring in any given year.

It is known as one per cent AEP and is the level of risk that the Government currently judges to be an “acceptable” level of risk.

Kirklees Council is now reviewing its seven-year-old Local Flood Risk Management Strategy and looking at what progress has been made since it was last refreshed in 2019.

But it has warned the size and scope of flood defence schemes for the worst-hit areas are likely to be too big to be affordable.

In an appendix to its main report the council says it better understands the location and size of flood risk and that a programme of mitigation measures can be developed “to address the locations at highest risk with greatest impact”.

But it cautions: “In broad terms, the risk of flooding from fluvial sources (the main river network, including the Colne, Holme, Calder, Spen, Dearne and Batley Beck) is such that major flood defence schemes to reduce the risk to property are likely to be unaffordable.

“Whilst a substantial number of residential properties in the district are at risk from river flooding, and a significant amount of historic industrial buildings lie adjacent to the river, the funding formula for the national Flood Grant in Aid programme is such that it won’t generate significant amounts of grant funding to make such schemes affordable.”

The council has completed assessments of some high flood risk locations including north Mirfield, which were among 11 measures left outstanding from 2013. Others are ongoing.

A project to identify and document highest risk private flood defence and drainage assets is set to be completed by October 2020.

A report to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Manage-ment Committee next week (March 9) says the authority will ensure developers comply with regulations on water run-off.

The council is also focused on educating residents and businesses on the flood risks they face.

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