Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves is calling on the new Environment Secretary to prioritise extra funding for flood defences after what she says is ‘three and half years of delay and dithering’.
In the aftermath of the Boxing Day Floods, ministers promised that Leeds would soon have one of the “most resilient flood defence programmes in the country”.
But Ms Reeves says residents and businesses in Kirkstall are still ‘no better protected today than they were then’.
In her letter, Reeves urges Theresa Villiers “to lobby the Chancellor for the additional funding needed to complete the full 1-in-200 year LFAS scheme” ahead of the next Government spending review.
This would involve the Government offering a further £25.3m towards to scheme to meet the existing shortfall.
Whilst Ms Reeves “welcomes the support that the Government has already committed to the LFAS” she adds that “the sad truth is that homes and businesses in Kirkstall are still at high risk of flood damage because of the ongoing delay in delivering this scheme”.
The Leeds West MP ends by cautioning that “the consequences of further delay and dither are all too predictable”.
The Whaley Bridge dam collapse & recent flash floods across North Yorkshire are a timely reminder that we need to upgrade our key infrastructure to cope w/ the climate emergency🌍— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) August 23, 2019
My letter to the new Environment Sec on the need to fully fund the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme👇 pic.twitter.com/bqvRlI4hSJ
The Government has so far committed £65 million towards flood defences that will offer 1 in 100 year protection, but there is a £25.3m shortfall for the 1 in 200 year protection Ms Reeves and Leeds City Council say are necessary to prevent a re-occurence of the 2015 floods.
Planning permission for the 1 in 100 year flood defence scheme was granted in June.
Properties flooded when the River Aire broke its bank on Boxing Day 2015 included businesses along Kirkstall Road, the Industrial Museum in Armley, Leeds Rhinos’ training facilities in Kirkstall and the Rodley Nature Reserve.
The Dispatch has reported extensively on the need for flood defence here.