Following the record-breaking wet-weather in December, with Storms Desmond and Eva battering the UK, inspections have been carried out by the Environment Agency on 80% of their flood defence assets, with 660 flood defences identified as needing repair work. Due to the hostile weather, military assistance has been required for some of the inspections, whilst other assets remain under water.
December was the wettest month on record, after heavy rain saw 14 rivers across the north recording their highest ever flows. Honister Pass in Cumbria saw the highest amount of rainfall ever in a 24-hour period, with more than 341mm, and almost 200 Environment Agency river level gauges recorded their highest ever river level.
Some repairs are already complete, including in Croston, Lancashire, where sheets of corrugated metal were driven into the ground to repair a river bank damaged by high flows on the River Douglas.
The repair work will be funded in part by the government’s investment in recovery from Storm Eva and Storm Desmond, which now amounts to nearly £200M.
Environment Agency flood defences protected 12,500 properties during Storm Desmond and 10,900 during Storm Eva but more than 20,000 properties flooded as a result of the extreme weather.
Environment Agency Acting Chairman Emma Howard Boyd said: “Our teams have worked tirelessly to repair flood defences and help communities in particular across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire get back on their feet after the terrible flooding we saw over December and January.
“Last week I visited Croston in Lancashire and saw the fantastic work that had been done to repair the flood bank and restore protection to residents in the village. This is the crucial work we are now focusing on to restore protection to those homes and businesses at risk.”
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said: “Vital flood recovery work is underway across the north of England as Environment Agency teams work to identify repairs and restore protection to communities. We will be using the £40M provided to us by the government to carry out these vital repairs.
“We will also continue to work with the government on its Flood Resilience Review, which will assess how we can be better protected in future from the type of extreme weather we saw in December.”
Alongside the recovery work, the Environment Agency is on track to better protect 44,000 properties in England this year through its continued programme of investment in flood defence schemes. This work is part of a £2.3Bn government investment in more than 1,500 flood defence schemes, reducing flood risk to 300,000 properties by 2021.