I would like to share this latest update from Flooding Minister Rebecca Pow in relation to flood alleviation for Shrewsbury:
Thank you for your letter of 22 February to the Secretary of State on behalf of your constituents about flooding in Shrewsbury, following your meeting on 21 February. I am replying as the Minister responsible for floods policy and I apologise for the delay in doing so.Defra is currently dealing with high volumes of correspondence.
The Government recognises the impact flooding incidents have on communities and sympathises with those affected, and I was sorry to see the recent impacts on residents and businesses in Shrewsbury. Flooding has a devastating effect, both in terms of physical damage and impacts on health, including mental health. This is one of the reasons why the Government has doubled its investment from the last 6-year floods programme, investing a record £5.2 billion in some 2000 new defence schemes in the current programme (running from 2021 to 2027).
As you know, Bellwin is a scheme that may offer central government support to local authorities to help recoup costs associated with responding to an emergency. Relevant councils need to make an application directly to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) who manage the Bellwin scheme and will assess applications using data provided by the council. I am advised that no application for Bellwin support has been received by DLUHC from Shropshire Council.
The Severn Valley Water Management Scheme (SVWMS) The SVWMS is being delivered by the Environment Agency (EA) and partners, and seeks to develop a catchment-based approach to sustainable flood risk and water management across the Upper Severn catchment. The scheme has been allocated £34.7 million Defra Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) in the current programme, and up to a further £10 million as part of the Summer Economic Update funding announced in July 2020, to support the development of business cases and the necessary frameworks needed to underpin future delivery. I know the EA is working closely with several key statutory authorities on this proposal across the Upper Severn, including Shropshire Council, Powys County Council, and Natural Resources Wales.
As you recognise in your letter, the initial phase of a study to set out an initial strategic programme of works should be completed imminently, with subsequent engagement and project development being undertaken, in collaboration with the River Severn Partnership thereafter. The project will be supported by a pipeline of “demonstrator” projects, to enable the testing of key concepts, and will result in some initial small-scale capital interventions in selected locations. Up to £4.5 million as part of the Summer Economic Update funding has been allocated to support these projects benefiting the Shrewsbury region. I look forward to hearing how this work progresses.
This funding supports investment already made in the River Seven Catchment with the River Severn Strategy already receiving £10 million FDGiA, and up to £1.5 million under a Defra Adaptive Pathways pilot via the Innovation Resilience fund. In addition to the above, in the current floods investment programme, a total of £1.8 million Defra FDGiA has been allocated for projects within Shrewsbury town.
Riverside development: This project is still in its early stages. The EA is in regular contact with Shropshire Council regarding its plans for the redevelopment of the riverside area in Shrewsbury. The EA, alongside the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, will assess the case for FDGiA.
Coton Hill: The EA recently conducted an initial flooding assessment for Shrewsbury, in which the Coton Hill area flood risk was reviewed. This assessment showed there are 44 properties that could benefit from a flood risk management scheme. The most feasible option requires further funding of £6 million to be secured. There are also significant challenges around the historic setting of the area, which will likely increase the future costs. The EA continues to work with communities and all partner organisations to find solutions to these challenges.
Coleham: A flood risk management scheme in Coleham could better protect up to 106 properties from flood risk. The EA has commissioned a study of the area to gather all the available information around the River Severn and the Rea Brook, that contributes to the flood risk. The opportunities for funding and impact on wider infrastructure will be the next steps considered. The most viable option for an improvement scheme at this location is currently showing that it requires further funding of £14 million, which may be an underestimate, as a detailed design has not yet been produced.
Attingham Park: This is one of the demonstrator projects that links to the SVWMS. In collaboration with the National Trust, there are proposals for landscape recovery within Attingham Park that will increase the water storage potential in this area. I understand a pre-feasibility report commissioned by the National Trust indicated a potential opportunity for storing 650,000m3 of flood water on site. I look forward to hearing how the detailed feasibility study progresses.
I would like to take the opportunity to commend the work undertaken by Shropshire Council and River Severn Partnership to reduce flood risk in this area, and look forward to meeting with you and Professor Mark Barrow on Monday 23 May to discuss this work further. Thank you again for taking the time to contact the Secretary of State about this important issue. REBECCA POW