Firms asked to pay for flood defence works

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THE Government has earmarked £11m to help protect more than 300 businesses in the east end of Sheffield from the risk of flooding.

But the extent of the scheme that can be rolled out in the Lower Don Valley will depend on how much money the council can add from other sources, such as the European Union and local businesses.

Companies are likely to be asked whether they are prepared to contribute two per cent of the value of their business on the basis that they will pay cheaper insurance once flood defences have been improved. A ballot is planned for May or June next year.

Both the council and the Government are anxious to avoid a repetition of the 2007 floods which devastated the valley and its businesses.

Announcing the Government money, Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “This £11m investment will improve protection for over 300 businesses and encourage new firms to move in. I know businesses in our industrial heartland of the Lower Don Valley will welcome the news.

“In the Sheffield floods of 2007 many businesses were forced to shut down and we had the shocking spectacle of helicopter rescue winching people from their place of work. So our city knows only too well the devastating damage that serious flooding can do.”

Better defences are planned between Nursery Street and Blackburn Meadows near the M1, rebuilding sluice and flood gates, as well as creating extra reservoir storage at the head of the valley.

The aim is to reduce the risk of flooding to once in every 100 years. The disaster of 2007 was rated once in 150 years.

The council says the east end is Sheffield’s main economic zone outside the city centre.

Already some defences have been improved. A small park has been created off Nursery Street, which will act as an overspill for the River Don, and a wall has been built along the Don between Blonk Street and the Wicker viaduct.

Further work depended on funding from Yorkshire Forward, the Government-backed regional development agency, which has now been wound down.

Council cabinet member Jack Scott said: This money will go some way to replacing what was cut when Yorkshire Forward was abolished.

“It means we will be able to move forward with the Sheffield Council Flood Plan to make sure our city is protected from the increasingly extreme weather we now see.”