New and existing measures including improved drainage and enhanced defences are set out alongside actions required to protect Doncaster households from worsening flooding linked to climate change in a new report following last November’s catastrophic floods.
Ten months on since severe floods hit communities across Doncaster, Mayor Ros Jones and her Cabinet will consider a Flood Recovery Report next week on how the events unfolded, what improvements have already been undertaken, and what must be done to help prevent a similar incident happening again in the future.
The November floods hit numerous communities across the borough with many people having to evacuate their homes. In total, 897 properties were directly affected.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 emergency, a significant amount of work has been carried out already to increase the protection and support Doncaster’s communities going into this winter.
A huge number of flood mitigation measures have been put in place by Doncaster Council, the Environment Agency, water companies and drainage boards. The council alone has carried out £800,000 of flood works in various locations alongside £250,000 of highways maintenance works. This has included the ongoing replacement of 101 culverts, cleansing 40,000 gullies, de-silting watercourses, installing new drains and pipework or repairing existing and various other works.
Since November, the Environment Agency has commenced an £11million programme of urgent repairs and improvements to flood defences which will help communities across the borough be better protected this winter.
As well as these corrective works, a number of additional measures have been identified which will reduce risks further over time. The council has submitted bids to the Environment Agency and the Sheffield City Region to help fund a series of important schemes which will help protect Doncaster people and businesses from increasing risks from climate change.
The Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis and Local Leaders from across South Yorkshire have written to the Prime Minister to express their concerns over flood prevention efforts across South Yorkshire. Together they have drawn up a detailed £270million plan for nature-friendly flood defences in the region. This includes urgent projects to protect the places hit in 2019 and which the Government’s flooding plans announced earlier this year, leave defenceless.
Since floods hit communities last year, Doncaster Council and partners have provided practical help for affected households and businesses to recover. The Government’s Property Flood Resilience (PFR) scheme, which has just been extended, means that owners of flooded properties can claim up to £5,000 for flood resilience measures like installing flood doors and fitting air brick covers.
Flood restoration has also been supported by a range of partners from St Peter’s Church in Bentley to Keepmoat Homes, and helped many households who were uninsured get their properties back into a liveable condition, but the report sets out that more national investment along with access to sufficient and affordable insurance is vital to improve support and help those in need get back on their feet.
The report describes how the council’s flood response has been strengthened if the worst should happen and we experience further severe floods this winter. This includes extra sandbags with clear plans to quickly deploy them where needed, an advance plan to keep key roads open, more community flood wardens with refreshed training and investment in council specialist flood teams both to quickly respond to issues and to keep on top of the programme of investment in improved defences.
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster said: “The Section 19 Flood Investigation Report, commissioned by Doncaster Council and working with our partners, clearly sets out the causes and impact of the flooding last November in each affected area, and recommends a plan of further action to enhance our future flood resilience as well as lessons which should be learnt from both our preparedness and our response to the floods that devastated communities across Doncaster in 2019.
“Climate change is playing an increasing role. I recently launched the Doncaster Climate and Biodiversity Emergency Commission and a clear recommendation is the importance of improving climate adaption and resilience in all parts of our borough to address the significant impacts of flooding and climate change. We are determined to work closely with the Environment Agency and our other key partners to help mitigate future risks and improve flood risk management. It is essential that we work together across the whole River Don catchment, from source to sea, so that we address root causes of flooding together.
“Solving the cause of flooding is often complex and some of the potential solutions are not quick fixes and can be costly to implement. Our Flood Recovery report highlights how essential it is that National Government makes good on the promises given to Doncaster people last November to invest significantly in future flood protection and resilience that will sustainably address the challenges we face now and into the future.”
Helen Batt, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Alongside working to ensure our flood defences are ready for this winter, we are committed to working with Doncaster to take a catchment-wide approach which uses nature-based solutions, as well as hard engineered flood defences, to help local communities be more resilient to flood risk and climate change.
“We advise everyone to check their flood risk at our Flood Warning Service website and sign up to receive free flood warning alerts if they are in a flood risk zone.”
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “In November 2019 we saw just how devastating the impact of flooding was on our people and businesses. That is why I have been working round the clock to hold Government to account and get them to invest in effective flood protection defences as well as confirm when they will convene the Flooding Summit they committed to hold.
“Investing in flood prevention will help to create jobs and boost the local economy. I’m calling on the Government to do much more and to invest in all of our shovel-ready flood protection schemes to protect our region. We need to work to reassure our residents and businesses that everything possible is being done to protect our communities and prevent the devastating floods of 2007 and 2019 from happening again.”
To read the report go to: https://doncaster.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=131&MId=3478&Ver=4 and click on the appropriate agenda item.
Watch a video about the floods here: https://youtu.be/W-jgKLyf3mk