Anger as the Government ‘dithers’ over flood protection report delay

The Co-op and Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd, December 26, 2015, floods. Picture by  Jade Smith
The Co-op and Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd, December 26, 2015, floods. Picture by Jade Smith

A major report into preventing flooding has been delayed prompting fears over the Government’s commitment to protecting the Yorkshire region from future disasters.

Senior council leaders have written to Prime Minister Theresa May seeking assurances following the delay of the publication of the Flood Resilience Review, which was expected in July.

Concillor Tim Swift outside Halifax Town Hall.

Concillor Tim Swift outside Halifax Town Hall.

The review was announced after last winter’s catastrophic floods which affected the Calder Valley, Leeds and York and was intended to assess how the region could be better protected from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather.

There are added concerns that a delay stretching into autumn would leave less time to make any short-term changes ahead of winter.

It is the latest blow for the thousands of victims hit by flooding after the Government scrapped the flood tsars this summer.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves accused the Government of “dithering and delay”, and said: “The Government has badly let down my constituents and many others across the country struggling to get new insurance quotes and rebuild their lives after the floods. The Environment Secretary needs to get a grip on the situation and ensure the review is published as soon as possible.”

Leeds Council leader Judith Blake and Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift have both written a joint letter to Mrs 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.”

Councillor Blake said that any delay was a concern, especially for residents and businesses in Leeds affected by Storm Eva.

She is also requesting urgent talks to press for confirmation of previously promised funding for a flood defence scheme for Leeds where about 2,000 homes and 500 businesses were affected on Boxing Day.

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

Councillor Swift (Lab, Town) said the review was critical for long-term planning, adding: “We are concerned about the delay and whether the new Government is as committed as the previous one.”

It is understood the delays in the report’s publication are due to the political changes after the Brexit vote and the departure of former Prime Minister David Cameron.

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