Press release

Environment Agency flood defences ready for winter

After the exceptional rainfall and storms of last winter, the Environment Agency has completed a record number of repairs to flood and coastal defences across Devon and Cornwall and is urging communities to make sure they are ready if flooding happens this year.

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As well as repairing flood defences, the Environment Agency has improved resilience to flood defences and in some areas, created new defence systems. This work means communities are now better protected. Working around the clock with their partners and main contractor BMM (Bam Nuttall and Mott MacDonald), the Environment Agency has repaired nearly all the defences damaged during last winter.

In Devon and Cornwall, the Environment Agency and local councils have been carrying out repair works to 218 flood and coastal risk projects. To date, 188 projects have been completed and 30 projects are on-going. Where permanent repairs are well underway but not completed, the Agency can confirm that the standard of protection to communities has been re-established by the work already done or appropriate contingency arrangements are in place to ensure that no communities are at an increased flood risk compared to the pre-winter 2013/14 situation.

£18.2milllion of additional funding was allocated to complete this flood recovery work in our area. £12.7million of that funding was allocated to 10 local councils to carry out repairs to their assets at 132 locations. The remaining £5.48 million of funding went to repair damaged Environment Agency assets at 86 locations. This work has been done by Agency field teams and contractors.

A new coastal flood defence is being built at Dawlish Warren and is on target to be completed this Christmas. The original defence was badly damaged in the winter 2013 storms and a new defence will be built further in land to provide more robust protection to Dawlish Warren village.

Cornwall Council suffered some of the most significant damage to coastal defences in the country with losses of breakwaters and the destruction of complete lengths of coast protection structures. The council received an allocation of £9.1million for 66 locations, including Penzance.

The flood defences at Bude, which protect 100 properties, are now being repaired and temporary defences have been constructed to protect the properties during construction.

The Agency has also worked with communities to develop community flood plans or incorporate flood plans within their wider emergency plan. Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, the Long Brook Street area of Plympton and Kingsbridge are just 4 of the communities who have recently completed their emergency plans to prepare for the possibility of flash flooding.

Gordon Trapmore, for the Environment Agency, said:

Last winter was exceptional, and many places saw record rainfall totals for the winter. But flooding itself is not exceptional, it causes devastation and heartbreak and, as 1 in 6 properties across the country is at risk, we want people to do 3 simple things: know your flood risk, sign up for our free flood warning service and know what you would do if flooding does happen.

Many people think flooding will never happen to them, but it could. Now is the time for families to check whether they are at risk and make sure they are prepared. By working closely with our partners we’ve completed a really ambitious schedule of repairs. This work not only protects local people and businesses but represents real value for money.

The three most important steps are:

  • use the Environment Agency’s maps to find out if you are at risk of flooding
  • sign up for free flood warnings in your area
  • prepare a personal flood plan

Visit https://www.gov.uk/check-if-youre-at-risk-of-flooding for more information.

Alternatively, you can obtain help and advice by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or go online to find out more about how to prepare for a flood through Facebook, Twitter #floodaware or YouTube.

Published 28 November 2014