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Yorkshire Water seeks flood defence role

Yorkshire Water has announced that it is interested in playing a bigger role in flood defence, after Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said water companies could take on greater responsibility for flood risk management.

With Yorkshire set to be particularly hard hit by cuts to flood defence spending next year, Yorkshire Water said it is looking at how it can play a greater role in supporting flood alleviation across the region.

The company announced that it believes it is in a position to play a bigger role to help address the problem, should the Government wish.

Spelman told industry group Water UK’s city conference earlier this month that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)’s Water White Paper, to be published this summer, will look at adding flood defence to some water companies’ responsibilities (NCE 17 February).

She said different water companies could take on different levels of responsibility according to their particular geographical challenges, and named Yorkshire Water as one company whose attitude had particularly impressed her.

Yorkshire Water chief executive Richard Flint said: “We’re looking at how we might be able to support the Government at this difficult time and play a bigger role by taking on more responsibility for furthering the region’s flood defences.

“Since the floods of 2007, we’ve played a very active role in developing water management planning and a flood emergency response in partnership with regional local authorities and the Environment Agency in our region.

“This approach has already heralded significant improvements in many of the region’s flood defences and we feel strongly that this multi-agency approach is the best way to deliver improved flood protection and management in the future.

“However, we’re now hearing some very real concerns around the announced reduction in funding for flood alleviation projects in the Yorkshire, which could potentially put important work at risk.”

As part of the company’s £1.9bn investment across the region between 2010 and 2015, Yorkshire Water is spending £120M to help reduce the number of sewer flooding incidents across the region and protect its works from extreme weather.

Since 2005, the company has spent millions of pounds to help reduce the number of sewer flooding incidents across the region, including £2.4M on a flood alleviation project at Muston Road, Filey − an area which historically has suffered a series of flooding incidents in the past, including the flooding of a number of properties.

To play its part in helping to reduce such incidents, Yorkshire Water has enlarged its sewer which runs under the road and created a huge underground storage tank capable of storing over 1.1M.l of waste water.

The announcement follows the news that the Government is making a 27% cut to capital investment for flood protection in the coming year, with a number of projects in Yorkshire being put on hold including a huge £188M project in Leeds, drawn up to protect 3,500 homes and businesses along 19km of the River Aire. Other projects in Thirsk and York have also been put on hold.

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