Friday, 2 July 2010

"Everyone must help stop floods"

Agency chief executive Dr Paul Leinster said contributions towards flood protection had to come from places other than the Government.

He said while this investment was important, councils “must now look at alternative funding streams, including increased contributions from those who will benefit from future defence schemes”.

In Hereford, supermarket chain Asda contributed £2m and constructed 440 metres of flood barriers as part of the conditions for a new supermarket in the town, he said.

Elsewhere, in Bawdsley, Suffolk, local landowners and residents formed a trust and raised £2.2m for flood defences by selling plots of land.

The EA warned that “businesses, landowners and communities will have to make a bigger contribution to paying for flood defences in their area in the future”.

Last night Oxfordshire flood risk manager Barry Russell said the way flood risk schemes were delivered would have to become more innovative in the future.

He said: “The more we can deliver in partnership, the greater flood risk protection we can provide.”

West Oxford city councillor Susanna Pressel agreed.

In July 2007 hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in the west of the city after heavy rainfall.

Ms Pressel said: “It’s a very good idea and one that Oxford has been doing for many years now. Schemes like the one in Hereford are a useful source of money.”

Ms Pressel said it was the responsiblity of all sorts of people to pay for flood defences.

She said: “Private landlords should be building flood-proof houses with power points half way up the walls, waterproof plaster and things like that”

Factory owner Terry Siddall was one victim of the 2007 floods – he suffered £70,000 worth of damage to his farm near Hailey as the water destroyed 18 rooms.

He said disappointingly little had been done since to prevent future incidents.

He added: “Our home has been flooded twice. I live in fear of the third time because not enough has been done.”

Mr Siddall said local councils needed to ensure landowners maintained ditches and drainage systems.

“It would not cost the councils much at all,” he said.

Ms Pressel said action had been taken since 2007, including the building of a water wall on Bullstake Close and better drainage systems on Duke Street and Earl Street.

The EA, Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Water have also set up flood prevention schemes across the county over the last three years.

For example, in East Hanney, volunteers cleared vegetation from a local brook and built a flood defence bank and footpath. The EA and local authority both provided funding and equipment.

Ms Pressel said: “There is a lot more cooperation between councils and groups now. Things are getting done.”

Oxford Times, 1 July 2010, by Rhianne Pope

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