£500k for towns’ flood defences

Flood. Hemsworth bypass.'h9356b726
Flood. Hemsworth bypass.'h9356b726

MORE than half a million pounds is to be spent on increasing flood defences in South Elmsall and South Kirkby.

Wakefield Council has been given £178,000 to significantly increase flood storage capacity at South Kirkby Country Park and £180,000 for the same work to be carried out at Minsthorpe Lane Playing Fields. The council, which is working in partnership with the Environment Agency, will also provide £150,000 of internal funding towards the project.

The work - which involves creating an area where excess floodwater will flow into and be temporarily stored until water levels decrease - is expected to start later this year and will be completed in 2012.

The South Kirkby project will increase protection to the 107 properties in South Elmsall at risk of flooding if the Hague Hall Beck overflows. Existing ponds onsite will be joined up to create additional space for water.

In South Elmsall, the playing fields will be lowered and small embankments will be built, increasing protection to 110 properties. The project will also create a way to control the water getting back into the beck when the flow is low enough to take it.

Homes and businesses in the southeast of the district were badly flooded after heavy rainfall in June 2007, with some residents unable to return to their homes until nearly two years later.

The money came from the Local Levy, which is raised from local authorities by the Yorkshire (Transitional) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. It is spent on schemes which would not otherwise qualify for national flood funding and often attracts grants from other organisations, as is the case with these two projects.

The council submitted bids for the funding after working with local residents and town and parish councils to develop a flood risk reduction strategy for the affected areas.

The money will pay for the first two phases of the strategy, with Wakefield Council continuing to work with the Environment Agency to secure DEFRA funding for the other phases of flood reduction works identified.

Ian Thomson, service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “We are very pleased to have received the funding which will enable us to carry out this valuable work. Whilst we can never eliminate the risk of flooding we can help reduce the risk by carrying out these schemes.”

Rachel Glossop, the Environment Agency’s local levy programme manager, said: “The committee is really pleased to help Wakefield Council take practical and responsible action to reduce the risk of flooding to residents. These schemes capitalise on nature’s way of tackling flooding, by allowing the water to flow on to open areas next to the river. The people of the area will benefit as the schemes make flooding of their houses less likely.”