Record £82.1m. flood defence scheme to benefit thousands of households across Cumbria and Lancashire

Homes and businesses in Lancashire and Cumbria are to be better protected from flooding and coastal erosion from a record £82.1m. investment.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 3:45 pm

Under ambitious plans announced by the government and the Environment Agency for dozens of schemes across the region, the investment is part of plans outlining £5.2billion over the next six years. More than £860m. will be spent in 2021/22 boosting design and construction of more than 1,000 schemes across England, as part of the Environment Agency’s annual capital programme.

It is all part of the Flood and Coastal Erosion Investment Plan, which sets out how new flood and coastal schemes will better protect 336,000 properties by 2027, helping to avoid £32 billion in wider economic damages and reducing the national flood risk by up to 11 per cent. This follows the successful delivery of the government’s previous £2.6 billion investment between 2015 and 2021, better protecting more than 314,000 homes, alongside local partners.

Examples of schemes that will receive investment in the first year of the six-year programme include:

Damside Street in Lancaster flooded when Storm Desmond devastated communities in 2015

Preston and South Ribble - The Preston and South Ribble Flood Risk Management Scheme is a £49m. project to improve flood defences for 5,000 homes and businesses. The Environment Agency has been working alongside local councils for three years to develop the plans, which would include new defence walls and embankments.

The plans will also see existing defences refreshed and the use of glass panelling to maintain river views. There are also ambitious plans to create "Ribble Sidings" - a variety of new wetland habitats created within a new network of footpaths along the South Ribble side of the River Ribble.

Investigations also continue for potential schemes in Hambleton and Wyre

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: “We have seen some devastating flooding around the world so far this summer. No one can prevent all flooding and climate change means the risk is increasing, but we can reduce the risks. Having completed the government’s six year capital programme on time and on budget, better protecting over 300,000 homes from flooding and coastal erosion, this year we began the government’s new £5.2 billion flood programme.

“These schemes should provide reassurance to communities and businesses, but no one should have a false sense of security. I strongly urge people to sign up for flood warnings and regularly check flood risk on gov.uk.”

Andy Brown, Environment Agency Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for Lancashire, said: “Alongside Local Authorities and partners, we have made great progress in the last six years to reduce flood risk across Lancashire. This includes completion of major schemes such as Fairhaven to Church Scar, Lancaster and Croston, all of which are helping to bring peace of mind to communities. However, with the climate emergency bringing more extreme weather, we must now redouble our efforts to make our communities more resilient in the future.

“We know there is more to do, which is why we are investing more than £82m in over 100 new flood and coastal erosion schemes across Cumbria and Lancashire over the next six years, to protect thousands more people, homes and businesses.”

Adrian Lythgo, Chairman of the North West RFCC, said: “The NW RFCC has agreed the programme of schemes that makes up this welcome national investment and a further £6.7m in capital and revenue for 2021/22 from local Levy which is raised by local authorities in the North West.

The total investment will fund flood protection measures for communities across our area, put forward from our five sub-regional partnerships in Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. With those sub regional partnerships the committee continues to assess the flood risks facing communities in the North West, including from the most recent storms."

The record yearly investment will see an extra £250 million invested in flood and coastal defences in 2021/22 compared with last year - the highest ever annual investment.