England

£12.5m flood defence measures 'shockingly disappointing'

Lifeboat volunteers pull a dinghy with people onboard through flooded water in a residential street Image copyright John Giles/PA
Image caption Emergency services, including lifeboat rescue volunteers, were called upon to help people flee their flooded homes last Christmas

Flood victims have reacted angrily to the government's efforts to prevent flooding, with some describing it as "shockingly disappointing".

A report outlined £12.5m for temporary defences after a review was commissioned following the floods across northern England last December.

Bob Deacon, whose home in Hebden Bridge was flooded, said: "It's abysmal. It's really shocking."

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said it would "strengthen defences".

About 16,000 houses were inundated during the wettest Christmas in a century.

The National Flood Resilience Review recommended measures including barriers and high-volume water pumps to be held at seven strategic locations around the country.

Mr Deacon, who chairs the Hebden Bridge Partnership, which was set up to improve the town, said flood-hit communities in West Yorkshire focused on solutions involving changes to the management of the moorland.

"There are only two sentences about all that - on the last page," he said.

"An opportunity has simply not been taken to assess this impact."

Image copyright PA
Image caption About 16,000 houses across northern England were flooded during the wettest December in a century last year

He said he had hoped the review would look at measures to force water companies to take on a legal responsibility to reduce flood risk.

"As a policy issue, it's simply not there. It's quite shockingly disappointing," he said.

About 90% of affected businesses had reopened and many installed flood resilience measures paid for by money raised locally, he said.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said the city was "barely mentioned in this report".

"What we can't have is a repeat of what happened with the cancelled flood defences in Leeds in 2011," she said.

Image copyright John Giles/PA

Brenda Pollack, campaigner at Rewilding Britain, which wants to restore natural habitats and wildlife, said opportunities to reduce flood risk naturally had been missed by the government.

"Restoring natural, varied landscapes helps absorb flood waters and is more cost effective than expensive flood barriers and defences," she said.

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