The Government claims that £120 million in new funding will speed up the delivery of flood defences that could protect up to 60,000 homes and deliver up to £1 billion of economic benefits, but the announcement created confusion in Ipswich as the Leader of Ipswich Borough Council told Ipswich Spy they were still trying to work out what it meant for Ipswich – with even civil servants less than 100% sure themselves.
The Government announced that £60 million of the funding will be targeted at areas where flood defences can unlock new opportunities for development and growth, helping our country compete and thrive in the global race. Investment will be focused on areas where it will have the greatest economic impact. A further £60 million will help speed up the delivery of up to 50 flood defence schemes already in train and prioritised by the Environment Agency.
In total, Defra estimates that this will support schemes which could improve flood protection for up to 60,000 homes and achieve up to £1 billion of economic benefits. This additional funding comes on top of over £2 billion already set aside to tackle flood and coastal erosion risks over the course of the Spending Review. The Government claims it is already on course to deliver better protection to around 145,000 homes by March 2015.
A tidal barrier as part of the flood defence scheme here in Ipswich is likely to be amongst those to receive extra funding under today’s announcement. This £54 million scheme would help build a tidal barrier to protect 1600 homes and 240 commercial properties in the town centre against significant flood risk, and allowing derelict waterside land to be redeveloped.
Homes across the country have been devestated in recent weeks as heavy rainfall swept across Britain. Prime Minister David Cameron made clear the Government’s support for schemes such as that in Ipswich.
“Flooding can have a devastating effect on communities.
“This week I met families and members of the Environment Agency and emergency services who have been incredibly brave and steadfast in testing times.
“I have also seen how flood defences can help protect people and property from being ravaged by flood water.
“So I am pleased that this additional £120 million will help to fast track defences for up to 60,000 more homes and unlock up to £1 billion of economic benefits.”
Halcrow, project managers for the Environment Agency, say the benefits of the Flood Defence Scheme in Ipswich are clear.
“The flood defence scheme will dramatically reduce the likelihood of flooding in Ipswich which will have a positive impact on the development of the town.
“There are numerous regeneration benefits which will be derived from the works. The Flood Defence Scheme will allow for the redevelopment of the waterfront area. The regeneration of the area offers opportunities for the renovation, restoration or removal of derelict land and buildings.
“Other potential benefits of the project will be high real estate and property investment returns, socio-economic regeneration for inner city communities, the development of new visitor markets environmental conservation, city and regional promotion as it is one of the largest regeneration projects in the East of England.
“The opportunities arising from the proposed development will benefit communities within the neighbourhood and the wider area. This investment could prove to be an important catalyst for the regeneration of the wider area, providing a solid foundation for the sustainable growth and prosperity of the local economy and further afield.”Ipswich MP Ben Gummer told the Ipswich Star “This is really fantastic. It will protect the town from the dangers of climate change and the risks of flooding for many many years.”
Mr Gummer said the news was especially satisfying, because it meant he had achieved what he had aimed at during his first term as MP.
He said: “When I was elected I pledged to fight for five major projects for the town: new schools for Holywells and Chantry, the new rail chord, the Travel Ipswich project, and the flood defences. This is the fifth of those.”
David Ellesmere, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said “We believe it is essentially a re-announcement of what we’ve already been promised by the Environment Agency – that if we locally bridge a £6.6 million funding gap in the Ipswich Flood Defence Scheme then the Environment Agency will complete the scheme including the tidal barrage. We have secured this £6.6 million funding by a successful application to the New Anglia LEP’s Growing Places Fund. We took a report to the Executive this week (on the closed agenda due to commercially sensitive information) confirming the arrangements.
“Our main concern is that this announcement may actually slow the flood defence scheme down, rather than speed it up. We had thought that funding was all but confirmed but the Treasury press release states: “Sponsors of the five schemes above [of which Ipswich is one] will be invited to apply. Funding criteria will be published by Defra shortly. The confirmed set of schemes will be announced early in the New Year.” So there is more delay and we are still not 100% certain that the Government will agree to fund the Ipswich scheme.
“We’ve done our bit, we need the Government to get on and do theirs.”
Filed under: Government, Ipswich Borough Council, Policy, Public Sector Cuts Tagged: | Ben Gummer MP, David Cameron, David Ellesmere, DEFRA, environment agency, Halcrow, Ipswich Flood Defence Scheme, Treasury