Leeds sidelined as £12.5m announced for ‘temporary’ flood defences

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MILLIONS of pounds are being spent on new temporary flood defences after a Government review - but Leeds appears to have been sidelined.

The National Flood Resilience Review was set up after devastating floods last winter across parts of Yorkshire, to assess how the country could be better protected from future flooding and increasing extreme weather.

Storms last December inflicted misery on parts of West, South and North Yorkshire and Cumbria, where in some places flood defences did not work, forcing thousands of people from their homes over Christmas. Some have still not been able to return.

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The long-awaited report outlines £12.5 million for temporary defences such as barriers and high-volume water pumps.

But Leeds, where some of the worst flooding occurred, is barely mentioned in today’s report, which instead focuses on a pilot project in Sheffield, which the government says will “enable the city to identify development of a type that will beautify the city-scape, unlock opportunities for urban regeneration and fit with local development priorities”.

DECEMBER 2015: Flooding in Kirkstall Road. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

DECEMBER 2015: Flooding in Kirkstall Road. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

West Yorkshire’s Calder Valley - also the scene of heavy flooding last winter - was used as a “survey area” in the report, but it contains no specific proposals to prevent further floods there.

Leeds floods video - Kirkstall Road ‘like a river - people can’t believe what they’re seeing’: Click here to watch

Scale of flood damage in Leeds revealed: Click here for more

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, said: “Leeds is barely mentioned in this report which really does smack of the government not taking the risk here seriously. Storm Eva caused absolute devastation for residents and businesses in Leeds, with many still recovering. The people of Leeds need the new Secretary of State to come out and confirm she will stick to the promises made to the city by her predecessor earlier this year. Namely that funding will be made available to provide protection from the River Aire upstream from Leeds Station along the Kirkstall Road corridor. The silence on this is becoming increasingly concerning, especially as the report says flood defences for cities are now only the ‘ultimate aim’, as opposed to the ‘whatever it takes’ line previously used by government.

“As we know to our cost there has been a severe lack of long-term planning when it comes to funding for flood defences and there is nothing in this report to offer comfort on that level. What we can’t have is a repeat of what happened with the cancelled flood defences in Leeds in 2011, so I have invited the Secretary of State to visit so she can meet some of the residents and businesses so badly affected by Storm Eva, although I still await her response.”

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