News story

Building flood resilience: minister visits innovative projects in Sheffield

Oliver Letwin visits flood defence projects in Sheffield that use cutting edge technology to reduce the impact of flooding.

In his role as chair of the National Flood Resilience Review, Oliver Letwin saw first hand how these projects are delivering huge benefits in the area through better flood protection.

Representatives from the Environment Agency, Natural England and Sheffield Council accompanied the minister as part of a wider fact-finding mission in Yorkshire. He assessed the damage that extreme rainfall can cause, including how our local infrastructure, cities, towns and villages stand up to severe flooding.

With this evidence and analysis, the government will consider the longer term strategy on flood risk alleviation, including innovative ways of securing investment in flood resilience.

The team visited flood defences on Nursery Street in Sheffield that were completed in 2012. The scheme was designed to reduce the risk of the River Don overflowing, as it did in 2007, while maintaining the aesthetics of the local area.

They also visited the site of the proposed Lower Don Valley Flood Defence Project. The Lower Don Valley is a key economic area for Sheffield which was devastated during the 2007 floods. The new defence will reduce the flood risk of up to 500 existing businesses and will help to secure up to 5,000 jobs.

Sheffield City Council are delivering the project in partnership with the Environment Agency and with support from the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. Sheffield is an economic hub for the area and flood defences are vital for protecting Yorkshire’s economic prosperity.

These projects are just examples of a range of catchment-wide interventions to reduce flood risk and improve the environment in Sheffield including: re-naturalisation of rivers, upland management and sustainable drainage systems. By combining a range of solutions in Sheffield multiple benefits of flood risk reduction and economic growth with be achieved in the most effective way.

The government launched the National Flood Resilience Review In January 2016 following the floods over Christmas. The Review will assess how the country can be better protected from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather events and is tasked with pinpointing where government can invest to improve resilience.

Oliver Letwin said:

Flood events are a fact of nature but as our climate changes, they are likely to get more intense and more frequent. We can’t stop floods happening but we can affect how we react to them.

After December’s floods this government took decisive action to help affected communities. An extra £700 million was announced in the Budget to boost flood defences and resilience across the nation, with £150 million of this pledged for Yorkshire and Cumbria. This huge investment will help improve our resilience but it needs to be spent in a way that will make the biggest impact.

I wanted to see for myself the excellent work agencies are doing in Sheffield and what the Review can learn to improve flood response across the country.