£2m flood relief project go-ahead in Bath
Nearly 300 homes in Bath are set to get better protection against flooding after the go-ahead was given for work to start on a £2 million project.
The Weston Catchment alleviation scheme is expected to help safeguard 285 properties once completed.
The £1.9 million cost is being met with £1.5 million in flood grant aid, and almost £400,000 in external contributions.
It comes in the wake of the flooding which caused widespread damage and disruption across the west.
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The scheme involving Bath and North East Somerset Council will involve survey and repair work in the northern part of Weston, where there are a number of old watercourses, sinks and springs.
Councillor Colin Barrett (Con, Weston) said Wessex Water was also looking at putting in larger pipes in the area to take water away.
“After many years of campaigning to resolve the problem of flooding, it looks as though we may be there,” he said.
The scheme was one of 93 projects given the green light by the Government to start construction this year, as part of a £294 million investment package, which also covers maintenance of existing schemes.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “The 93 schemes given the green light will bring huge relief to tens of thousands of homes and businesses that have lived with the fear of flood waters hitting their doors.
“This is also a message to the business community. By building defences that will unlock the economic potential of once blighted land we are saying to them that it is safe to come and set up.”
Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, said: “Our priority is to do as much as we can with every pound of funding and the new partnership funding approach is bringing in new money to allow flood defences to go ahead that would have been unaffordable in the past. We now expect to improve protection for 165,000 properties by 2015.”
There is as yet no new money for flood alleviation work in the Chew Valley, where a driver was swept to his death late last year.
And Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said: “Flooding is the biggest threat the UK faces from climate change, yet the Government will spend less on flood defences next year than Labour invested in 2008. Every £1 invested in flood defences saves £8 later and prevents untold human misery.”
She added: “Flood-hit communities are growing ever more anxious over the availability and affordability of flood insurance once Labour’s deal with the insurance industry expires in June.”
A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “It is incorrect to say that the budget for flood defences has been cut.
“We are on course to spend over £2.3 billion on flood risk management and have brought in significant additional contributions from communities and businesses through our new funding system.”