Above: I hosted a flood summit in March 2014
A whopping £40m boost to constituency flood protection was secured in the Autumn Statement, after my extensive lobbying of the Chancellor.
The announcement was made in the House of Commons this week as part of a package of flood improvements across the Fens with a total investment of £60m and I am delighted that our area has secured the lion’s share of the new funding.
The money was announced after extensive lobbying of ministers and after I held flood summit in the constituency in March shortly after the country had experienced significant flooding in Somerset and Oxfordshire and after Wisbech had come within hours of flooding from a tidal surge.
We have seen recently in March where sixty homes flooded how devastating it can be to families affected. We also came close to significant flooding when the tidal surge hit Wisbech earlier this year and I was determined to learn the lessons from that and the events in Somerset.
This week’s announcement is great news in improving our flood protection. The £40m allocated specifically to projects within North East Cambridgeshire includes work on the Ouse Washes, a flood alleviation scheme for March, and a refurbishment of the Binnimoor pumping station. This £40m is in addition to the £26m secured earlier in the Parliament for the full repair of the Whittlesey Washes South Bank, which was secured after the Environment Agency had initially proposed just £3-5m to be spent on a spillway, which would have led to flooding around Coates.
I met with Julie Foley, Area Director of the Environment Agency, in Parliament last week for an update on their maintenance programme ahead of the forthcoming winter weather, which included hearing about the dredging work at the counterdrain near Welney, which took place in November, involving the dredging of 3km of river and the removal of 0.5m of silt.
Bringing all the local experts together around the table in March to review our maintenance and repair programme was very helpful in focusing attention on the key tasks needed locally to reduce the risk of flooding. That in turn helped me greatly in lobbying in a more focussed way for additional government money. I am particularly grateful to the Environment Agency and to our drainage boards for their support. This additional £40m on top of the £26m secured for the Whittlesey Washes leaves us in a much better position to combat the increasingly irregular weather patterns in the future.