A flood defence scheme intended to protect 1,000 homes in Rochdale can go ahead now that the Government has stepped in with a £5 million funding boost.
Rochdale’s £46 million project is said to one of the largest inland flood defence schemes in the North West. The Government’s contribution, announced by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), means it now has all the funding required for the scheme to get underway.
The money is part of a wider funding boost announced by environment minister Thérèse Coffey, with £40 million being shared by 13 flood defence schemes across the country. Five of these are in the North of England, and they received almost half of the total funding – £17.4 million – in what Defra said is a boost to the Northern Powerhouse.
As well as offering protection to 1,000 homes and 200 business across the borough, the Rochdale scheme will also seek to defend critical infrastructure such as the tram network, a bus station, an electrical sub-station, and a waste water treatment plan.
The scheme involves building a series of storage reservoirs along the River Roch and its tributaries from Littleborough to Rochdale town centre. A number of flood alleviation measures, like raised walls and improvements to culverts and bridges, are also planned for Green Vale Brook, Town House Brook, Ealees Brook and Buckley/Hey Brook.
It’s now over two years since prolonged heavy rainfall led to the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015, which severely damaged 324 properties in Rochdale and Littleborough, and left 18,000 properties without power. A number of businesses were also affected as every river in Lancashire reached record levels.
“We saw first-hand the devastation the boxing days floods caused here in Rochdale, with people’s homes and businesses severely affected,” said Councillor Neil Emmott, the council’s cabinet member for environment.
“A number of flood defence measures have already been put in place since these events, including the storage basin at Calder Brook, but this is by far the biggest flood alleviation project in the borough and it’s something we’ve been working on with the Environment Agency for a number of years. This will have a transformative effect on the areas around the River Roch and make a huge difference to our residents and businesses.”
The scheme has also received money from Transport for Greater Manchester and the North West Regional and Coastal Flood Committee.
The Environment Agency is said to be finalising the preferred plans for the scheme and will be consulting with local people; work is expected to begin on building the defences in the summer of 2019.
“The 2015 Boxing Day floods were devastating for businesses and the families whose homes were flooded,” said Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd. “Something had to be done so the hard work by Rochdale Council, in particular Councillor Neil Emmott and Francis Comyn, who joined Liz McInnes and myself in a delegation to the minister Thérèse Coffey, was welcome and pleasing to see. The evidence was overwhelmingly in favour and I welcome this funding.”
Meanwhile, Defra has granted £7 million for new flood defences around the River Irwell in Bury and Radcliffe, eight miles to the west of the Rochdale scheme.
This funding is said to be the first step in the development of a £46 million scheme to better protect 870 properties. In addition to raising flood defences at key locations along the river’s edge, another aspect of the scheme will be the creation of a wildlife habitat and amenity areas for the public by setting defences further back from the river.
“This extra funding for flood defences will unlock schemes that will better protect thousands of homes and businesses against flooding, supporting regeneration in important towns and villages in the north and coastal communities,” said Coffey.
“It will boost our resilience as a nation and help our communities to grow and prosper. The north of England is a hotbed of culture, innovation and growth and this multi-million investment in flood schemes will help protect more than 2,700 homes and businesses from flooding.”
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, added: “Across the country we are seeing more extreme weather, which makes the Environment Agency’s role to protect people, homes and businesses from flooding even more important.
“From 2015 to 2021 we will reduce the risk of flooding for at least 300,000 homes so this £40 million is another welcome boost to achieving that. It is great news for communities – not only will it help us build flood schemes but it will also help wider economic growth.”