Thursday 23 May 2024
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Nottinghamshire flood relief scheme scrapped as ‘too expensive’

Bassetlaw District Council is calling on HM Treasury to urgently reform their ‘Green Book’ rules for investment into flood mitigation following the decision to scrap the proposed flood storage reservoir scheme at Retford Beck after it was deemed to be too expensive to deliver.

In a letter to residents, the Environment Agency state that their “schemes and projects must follow the Treasury Green Book rules for investment, where an evaluation of cost against economic benefit is required.”

The letter then cites rising construction costs and states that “the total project cost outweighs the economic benefit of the proposed reservoir and, therefore, the reservoir scheme cannot proceed.”

Instead of the proposed scheme, the Environment Agency has given a commitment to undertake culvert repairs and explore natural flood management measures. This falls far short of the Council’s expectations of the Environment Agency as it is a significant step back from the long-planned storage reservoir project.

Councillor Darrell Pulk, Cabinet Member for Environment and Energy at Bassetlaw District Council, said:

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“The Environment Agency’s decision is devastating for the residents of Blackstope Lane and Grove Lane, who have suffered from terrible historic flooding and live in fear of it happening again.

“The Environment Agency confirmed that the reservoir scheme would have provided a viable solution. They are now saying that the capital cost doesn’t cover the economic benefit. The Environment Agency has an annual budget of over £5 billion.

“The well-being, stress caused and the psychological impact on residents should be a high priority when considering the benefits of the scheme – not just economic factors. Retford residents deserve better than this. The government need to urgently review the rules under which the Environment Agency make such decisions.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that after Bassetlaw District Council ring-fenced £250,000 to support this scheme six years ago, and Nottinghamshire County Council also ring-fenced some investment, we are no further forward. Out-of-date processes and gateway reviews within the Environment Agency have seen flood schemes bogged down for years, with little progress made whilst costs are spiraling all the time.

“The Council’s flood alleviation funding remains allocated and we are committed to working in partnership with all stakeholders to tackle flooding and reduce the risk of life-changing impacts to residents, so I urge the Environment Agency to either reconsider its decision and progress the scheme at Retford Beck or to urgently come up with an alternative scheme to safeguard Retford residents.”

Cllr Sue Shaw, ward Councillor for Retford East said: “Sadly residents in my ward know only too well the devastating impact of flooding  so it is incredibly disappointing that the proposed reservoir scheme at Retford Beck won’t be going ahead. We will continue to work with partners and residents in Retford East ward  to push for a flood scheme that defends homes and gives them greater reassurance that they are better protected from flooding.”

Cllr Dan Henderson, ward Councillor for Retford East said: “It is deeply disappointing that the Environment Agency has decided not to move forward with the planned storage reservoir for Retford Beck despite Bassetlaw District Council allocating funding for this scheme six years ago.

“I have heard first-hand from residents about the devastating impact flooding has had on them in recent years and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with local residents to continue to demand a proper flood alleviation scheme for Retford Beck.”

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