CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed a multi-million pound Government investment to manage the dangers posed by flooding on the River Severn after the devastating storms earlier this year.
The River Severn is at the heart of a nationwide a £5.2billion programme of investment to support flood resilience which will see the introduction of a Severn catchment pilot project to protect and support 22,000 jobs along the course of the Severn Valley.
Alongside this the Government has announced a new £200million fund for innovative resilience projects which combine improvements to flood resilience with wider environmental objectives and significant funding for Tenbury Wells which was among the areas fiercely hit by February’s floods.
The Government has allocated £4.9million towards a scheme which is estimated to cost between £5million and £6milllion to protect Tenbury Wells.
Tree planting and habitat creation will also take place throughout the Severn Valley to reduce flood risk and capture carbon.
It is estimated almost 3,000 homes will be protected.
Worcestershire County Council will be working to support delivery on the project which will help better protect 600 jobs and 80 businesses from the impact of flooding in the town.
Tenbury Wells has a long history of flooding from the River Teme and the Kyre Brook.
In February 2020 nearly 100 residential properties, more than 100 businesses and the main road through the town were badly flooded for several days at almost the same record highest level as 2007.
Coun Tony Miller, Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said “Flooding can have a devastating impact on homes and businesses, and this was seen as recently as February this year.
“The County Council very much welcomes the funding announced today and will continue to work with the EA to deliver this scheme for Tenbury and other successful flood alleviation schemes across the county, as we have done over many years.”
Coun Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy and Infrastructure, added: “I am thrilled to see this funding come to Tenbury.
“We’ve been working with local MP, Harriet Baldwin, for some time to help secure this investment from Central Government for Tenbury for a number of other schemes across county.
“The positive impact this scheme will have on the local businesses and the local economy will be huge.
“There has been significant progress made over the last 20 years on construction of flood alleviation and drainage schemes to ease the impact of flooding from the county’s biggest rivers – the Severn, Teme and Avon.
“However, the flooding in the Autumn of 2019 and Winter of 2020 has reinforced that further works are needed.”
The Leader of Malvern Hills District Council praised the investment of millions of pounds in flood defence schemes for Tenbury Wells and the Severn Valley area.
Coun Sarah Rouse, Leader of Malvern Hills District Council, said: “This is fantastic news for people and businesses in Tenbury. I visited the area to speak to people after Storm Dennis and saw for myself the devastation flooding causes.
“The town has suffered many times over the years and this scheme will hopefully bring an end to that.
“As a council we have been lobbying for many years on this issue. We now need to keep up the pressure to make sure we get the remaining funding needed, so we can start work as soon as possible.
“I’m also delighted there will be a natural flood management scheme for the Severn Valley Area. This will not only reduce flood risk but will also capture carbon, which is an important part of our efforts to tackle climate change.”
Malvern’s MP Harriett Baldwin echoed the welcome.
“Flooding has been a terrible blight in Tenbury and I was devastated to see the effects of serious flooding earlier this year leaving people homeless and businesses shut,” she said.
“I’ve always felt that this project would need persistence and I held positive meetings with Government ministers after this latest flood.”
Leading flood campaigner Mary Dhonau welcomed the announcement of cash for flood risk management, not just new flood defences.
“Working with nature and building back better are essential pieces of the flood resliance jigsaw. They are now mainstream, along with building flood defences,” she said.
The plan will see the delivery of flood and coastal defences to prevent £32billion in economic damage, the creation of areas to store water during flooding and greater use of nature based solutions to reduce flood risk.
Subject to consultation, flood resilience measures will also be included in any repairs after flooding to allow households which have measures in place to benefit from lower premiums.
Worcester MP Robin Walker welcomed Flood Minister Rebecca Pow to the city to show her the impact of flooding locally and proposed a blueprint to prevent and better manage future floods including more tree planting and better local plans.
“Flooding is a menace Worcester homes and businesses know all too much about and boosting our natural defences against flooding through better management of catchment areas and more tree-planting has to be the right thing to do,” he said.
“I know some Worcester communities such as Toronto Close would benefit from flood defences and I will continue to push for these but the whole Severn valley will benefit if we can better manage the flow of water and retain more upstream.
“The announcement is a big step in the right direction and the investments we make in environmentally friendly flood management will benefit not only jobs and livelihoods today but generations to come.”