David Davis praises united action in securing funding for Humber flood defences


As reported by the Hull Daily Mail:

A total of £80m will be invested in flood defences across the Humber Estuary. James Campbell speaks to politicians and business owners who now want to see a Humber-wide strategy to tackle the problem.

AS THE murky waves crashed over harbour walls, river banks and docksides, it was clear East Yorkshire’s flood defences were woefully inadequate.

The tidal surge of December 5 last year was a devastating experience across the Humber Estuary.

MPs from East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire realised they had to work together with the four local authorities and the Environment Agency (EA) to come up with a more permanent solution.

Chancellor George Osborne has now announced £80m to shore up flood defences to protect homes and businesses across the region.

Although local politicians believe an investment of £1bn is needed over 15 years, they have welcomed the fact the Government has recognised the merits of a Humber Flood Protection Strategy.

Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis said the news was an excellent example of everybody concerned working together, saying it was exactly what the Hull Daily Mail’s “One Voice” campaign had called for.

He said: “This was a fine example of a ‘pack action’, with all the MPs, the LEP and the local authorities getting together to back an idea.

“If we work together like this, the force may not be totally irresistible but it is very much harder for people to resist.

“The initial £80m investment for the scheme demonstrates the Government is taking this seriously and recognises the immediacy of the threat.

“In the long run, securing these defences is essential to protect people’s homes and livelihoods.”

Recognising the Humber Estuary as an area of national importance will increase the likelihood of further funding for flood defences, said Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy.

He said: “The idea is to have the Humber Estuary as a single settlement, which will help simplify the funding system and improve our chances of getting grants.

“The proposal is to provide the catchment area with flood defences to cope with a one-in-200-year flood event.

“The Government has now acknowledged this proposal has merit.

“This isn’t just about homes but also about the importance of the infrastructure nationally.”

Reedness resident Geoff Cowling, 65, has only just returned to his bungalow after it was devastated by last year’s tidal surge.

He said: “While work has already started on defences in Reedness, I very much welcome this news.

“These new defences make you feel safe and it will be great if the whole of the Humber Estuary can feel the same way.

“Hopefully, no one else will have to go through what we went through.”

During the tidal surge, about 150 properties in East Yorkshire were damaged along with more than 1,000 across the Humber region.

Hessle was one of the worst areas affected.

Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson has also welcomed the latest news.

“We have worked hard on this new strategy cross-party,” he said.

“The tidal surge was inevitable and it could have been more horrific if the wind had been blowing in a different direction.

“We have worked with those locally, right up to the Prime Minister.

“The £1bn needed isn’t going to be found overnight, but this is something we can work towards. We have an acknowledgement the strategy is sound.”

Tony Lawson owns the Workout Gym in English Street in west Hull, which was badly damaged by the tidal surge.

“This investment is great news,” he said. “You don’t know what is going to happen in the future with climate change.

“Extra flood defences can give us peace of mind and hopefully we won’t have to go through this trauma again.”

The £80m set aside for the Humber Estuary is part of the Government’s £2.3bn plans for more than 1,400 flood defence projects across the country.

Much of the cash will go towards the Hull and Holderness Flood Alleviation Scheme, while some will be used to reinforce Hull’s defences on the Humber from Hessle right through to Paull.

Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart is pleased with the investment.

“I am particularly delighted that £27m of this money will be used for the Hull and Holderness Flood Alleviation Scheme,” he said.

“After the tidal surge, it became clear a piecemeal approach was never going to work and a Humber-wide solution was necessary.”

Some flood defence work has already taken place in those areas affected by last year’s floods, including Reedness and North Ferriby.

The surge was the worst for 60 years, with very high tides and strong winds.

There was significant flooding at locations such as Bridlington, Skipsea, Hornsea, Kilnsea, Paull, Hessle, North Ferriby, Old Goole and Reedness.

Flooding also reached Castle Street and Ferensway in Hull city centre, while homes in Victoria Dock were swamped.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson is not so impressed with the announcement.

She said: “This is not new money, but it tells us what the Humber’s share is of funding announced previously by ministers.

“Overall flood defence investment has actually been cut since 2010.

“This £80m over six years for the Humber should be set against the £888m minimum identified by the EA as needed for flood protection works around the Humber over the next ten years.”

Chancellor George Osborne believes the announcement is good news for the Humber region.

He said: “This investment will mean 50,000 households are better protected from floods in the future, bringing invaluable peace of mind to families and businesses in the area.”