Protecting local homes and businesses from flood risk
I am extremely pleased that the Government has announced that between 2021 and 2026 more than £21 million will be spent on improving flood protection and water management in our area.
The constituency of Penistone and Stocksbridge is very fortunate to be so close to beautiful countryside and the Peak District National Park, but this means it's even more important that we take responsibility for the proper management of this natural resource.
The £21 million being invested is targeted at projects designed to protect local homes and businesses, but will also contribute to enhancing and maintaining our local environment. I'm also reassured to know that the schemes have been designed in collaboration with local authorities and the Environment Agency.
Specific schemes that are receiving funding include significant works along the Upper Don Valley and flood alleviation measures at Blackburn Brook near Ecclesfield.
It's incredibly important that we take a broader, more strategic approach to issues of water management and flooding. Water moved from one place will always end up somewhere else, so we need to be aware that building homes on flood plains or forcing water downstream just leads to more cases of flooding and disruption to people's lives. I'm therefore pleased that this investment in our constituency is just one part of the Government's much wider National Flood and Coastal Erosion Investment Strategy.
We have seen numerous times here in South Yorkshire the devastating effects that flooding can have on homes and businesses. This problem will only be resolved by a collaborative and targeted effort by local authorities, the Government, the Environment Agency, and the water companies to invest in our flood protection and water management infrastructure.
The funding will therefore be accompanied by a consultation in the autumn, where the Government will look at how to better protect frequently flooded communities. It will consider how to strengthen the assessment of local circumstances, such as where areas have flooded on multiple occasions, when allocating funding as part of the six-year plan.
There will also be changes to guidance for planning authorities to better protect and prepare communities for flooding. This will increase compliance with planning rules and ensure that planning authorities refer planning decisions to Ministers when the Environment Agency is sustaining an objection on flood risk.
The sort of targeted investment and changes to rules that have been announced will go a long way to protect us from serious flooding, and by recognising the risks we can hopefully help prevent more incidents from happening in the future.
More details of the flood schemes can be found here.