Government ‘dithering’ over Leeds flood protection report delay

Aerial picture over the Kirkstall Road area of Leeds, West  Yorkshire, where flooding has occurred after the monumental amount of rain has caused the river Aire to burst its banks. See Ross Parry copy RPYFLOODS
Aerial picture over the Kirkstall Road area of Leeds, West Yorkshire, where flooding has occurred after the monumental amount of rain has caused the river Aire to burst its banks. See Ross Parry copy RPYFLOODS
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LEEDS MP Rachel Reeves has accused the Government of ‘dithering’ over a delay in publishing a major report into preventing flooding.

The crucial Flood Resilience Review, announced after the winter’s devastating floods, was widely expected in July but its findings have still not been revealed.

The MP said the Government had badly let down her constituents and many others across the country who were struggling to get new insurance quotes and rebuild their lives.

“The Environment Secretary needs to get a grip on the situation and ensure the review is published as soon as possible,” she said.

Leeds Council Leader Judith Blake and Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift have both written a joint letter to Theresa May about the progress of the review.

The letter says: “We are keen to understand the current status of the National Flood Resilience Review. This review was critical to understanding how we can better protect our communities and businesses from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather events.”

Coun Blake said any delay was a concern, especially for residents and businesses in Leeds affected by, and in some cases still recovering from, the devastation caused by Storm Eva.

She is also requesting urgent talks to press for confirmation of previously promised funding for a comprehensive flood defence scheme for Leeds where 2,000 homes and 400 properties were flooded on Boxing Day.

She added: “We saw government cancel funding for flood defences proposed in 2011 and we can’t let that happen again.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post understands it is unlikely the report will be published in August due to the political changes after the Brexit vote and the departure of David Cameron.

Although its findings were expected in July, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said they always officially just said it would be published in the summer which could mean up to the end of September.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee which warned a reactive approach to funding for flood defences exposed a lack of long-term planning, is writing to Government over the delay.

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Stephen Byrne.

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