Press release

Environment Agency outlines recovery and repair projects following record-breaking floods

The Environment Agency has carried out 16,000 inspections and identified around 660 flood defences needing repair work in the wake of record-breaking wet weather in December.

The ongoing work to assess and repair flood damage following Storm Desmond and Storm Eva will be outlined at an open Board meeting today, chaired by Acting Chairman Emma Howard Boyd.

Heavy rain throughout December led to it becoming the wettest month on record, with 14 rivers across the north recording their highest ever flows. Almost 200 Environment Agency river level gauges recorded their highest ever river level, 10 per cent of the total across England. Honister Pass in Cumbria saw the highest amount of rainfall ever in a 24-hour period, as more than 341mm fell.

Environment Agency flood defences protected 12,500 properties during Storm Desmond and 10,900 during Storm Eva but more than 20,000 properties flooded as a result of the extreme weather. The ongoing recovery work includes:

  • High priority damaged flood assets, such as the banks at Croston and St Michaels in Lancashire, have already been repaired either permanently or on a temporary basis.

  • Around 300 Environment Agency staff and contractors are working on recovery.

  • Flood Support Officers have visited more than 150 communities.

Environment Agency Acting Chairman Emma Howard Boyd said:

Our teams have worked tirelessly to repair flood defences and help communities in particular across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire get back on their feet after the terrible flooding we saw over December and January.

Last week I visited Croston in Lancashire and saw the fantastic work that had been done to repair the flood bank and restore protection to residents in the village. This is the crucial work we are now focusing on to restore protection to those homes and businesses at risk.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said:

Vital flood recovery work is underway across the north of England as Environment Agency teams work to identify repairs and restore protection to communities. We will be using the £40 million provided to us by the government to carry out these essential repairs.

We will also continue to work with the government on its Flood Resilience Review, which will assess how we can be better protected in future from the type of extreme weather we saw in December.

More than 80% of inspections (16,000) of flood defence assets have now been completed, with assistance from the military during the extreme weather. Assets in some areas remain underwater and will be inspected when water levels subside. So far 660 repair projects have been identified, with some repairs already complete, including in Croston, Lancashire, where sheets of corrugated metal were driven into the ground to repair a river bank damaged by high flows on the River Douglas.

The repair work will be funded in part by the government’s investment in recovery from Storm Eva and Storm Desmond, which now amounts to nearly £200 million.

Alongside the recovery work, the Environment Agency is on track to better protect 44,000 properties in England this year through its continued programme of investment in flood defence schemes. This work is part of a £2.3 billion government investment in more than 1,500 flood defence schemes, reducing flood risk to 300,000 properties by 2021.