The more controversial options being considered are ‘flood storage areas’ - designated open space where flood water can collect, before draining off gradually without reaching buildings. Options include building large embankments across Rivelin and Loxley Valleys and some ancient woodland sites in Sheffield. We have analysed the proposals and spoken to many people about potential impacts and alternatives.
Update: We were really pleased to be asked to comment about these important proposals to ensure the city is protected from flooding in the future.
You can see the issues we raised at the City Council Economic and Environmental Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee along with the latest news here.
Here is our letter to Councillor Bryan Lodge:
Re: Sheffield Flood Protection Proposals
Following the recent Economic and Environmental Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on the above topic, I would like to take this opportunity to further re-iterate our support for the strategic approach the Council is taking to flood protection of the city.
I mentioned a number of suggestions and requests in my presentation at the meeting that I hope the Council will consider further and I wanted to set these out more clearly here. They are as follows:
• For the scheme to seriously apply ‘all the tools in the box’ to help protect the city. There are a range of ‘tools’ – hard engineering (concrete walls, dams), soft engineering (re-meandering areas, restoring natural floodplains) and natural flood risk management (restoring peatland, tree planting, re-wetting etc). We should be using all of these.
• As an addition to the scheme, for the Council to apply for the natural flood management funds that have recently been announced by DEFRA.
• To consider that soft engineering solutions can also be delivered relatively quickly alongside hard engineering projects. Natural flood risk management options take longer to be realised but have increased benefits in the long term and will be cheaper to maintain than hard engineering. We should invest in these now.
• To make public how the Council models the cost/benefits of different proposals, from installation through to maintenance and end of life, and the cumulative benefits of each scheme over their life time vs their social and environmental impact.
• We have just been successful in our Landscape Partnership project (£4mln) that has natural flood risk management as a strand within it. Yorkshire Water and the EA are partners in this scheme. We are already in contact with land managers, owners and farmers in this area in NW Sheffield - an area that covers much of the Upper Don catchment and is the focus of the Council’s proposals. Why not work with us?
• It became clear at the Scrutiny Committee that a significant barrier would be needed in the Rivelin Valley in order to hold back the amount of water proposed for this scheme. I understood from the Council’s responses at the meeting that there would be some re-thinking about proposals in ancient woodlands. Obviously we do not support the use of nationally important natural assets of the city, such as ancient woodland and local wildlife sites, for flood storage. If these proposals are to be developed further, the Council must make a case that these are the last resort options and undertake a full Environmental Impact Assessment for the whole scheme.
• The timeline for presentation of shortlisted proposals to Government in January seems extremely tight, given the amount of concern over the consultation. Presumably work is already underway within the Council, and must have been for some months, in order to be ready for this deadline. So can the Council share the shortlist it has been working on?
Finally, I would particular like to follow up on the recommendation made at the committee to take forward the idea of a ‘strategic flood protection partnership’ for Sheffield involving a number of different organisations from across the city and with the potential to link into the wider community. I would very much welcome the opportunity to discuss this idea further with you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
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A briefing note and our full final response are available to download below. Thank you for your comments. You can continue to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
The consultation has now closed: for more information visit www.floodprotectionsheffield.com