Flooding: Irwell Vale and Surrounding Areas

Part of NDAs: Universities – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 29th June 2022.

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Photo of Jake Berry Jake Berry Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 4:00 pm, 29th June 2022

And Waterside, of course. An economic assessment has been undertaken by the Environment Agency, and the benefit and cost of all of the options has been assessed. The most economically favourable solution—frankly, the one that is likely to gain the maximum amount of grant in aid from the Government—has been identified. There was a long list of options, many of which I looked at. That was turned into a shortlist. The preferred option has now been chosen. It is what the Environment Agency refers to, slightly misleadingly, as a linear defence. It includes several mitigation measures to slow down flow.

That brings me to where we are today. The problem faced by Irwell Vale residents and communities, and other communities, is that the grant in aid funding will not cover the cost of the project needed in my constituency. It has been clear for a while that, if the scheme is to deliver meaningful and sustainable solutions, we will have to look at a cocktail of Government funding to support it, unless we ask communities to pay significant amounts that they cannot afford. The estimated cost of the project is £19.6 million, which I appreciate is not an insignificant amount. If the Minister, or any of her colleagues, were to visit Irwell Vale and speak to the community there, she would see that the community understands that it is an expensive scheme. They have been completely realistic and pragmatic about the need to work hard to find funding.

Of that £19 million—which sounds like a huge amount of money—we have already secured just over £11 million. That brings me to the rump—the £8 million—for which we are looking to the Government for support. The Environment Agency, supported by me and the community, has already applied to the fund for frequently flooded communities, as well as other Government Departments. It is also looking to increase the local levy contribution to try to make up some of that shortfall. We believe that the frequently flooded communities fund is absolutely central to delivering the scheme in Irwell Vale, although the Minister may have a different view. We know that the Government have not yet made decisions about the fund; one of the purposes of this debate is to gently nudge the Department and tell it that giving us that funding would be a good thing to do for the residents of Irwell Vale, Strongstry and Chatterton.

Last year, the Government announced that another £5.2 billion would be available for flood work over the next five years, and that it would be invested in flood alleviation schemes. That is really important, not just for my constituency but for the wider River Irwell catchment. I am excited that the Government have allocated so much more funding—more money than any Government in history—to tackling flooding. I hope that the Government look favourably on our local scheme, which is supported by the Environment Agency and the council that covers the areas that my hon. Friend Sara Britcliffe and I represent. It is supported locally and by Parliament. I thank my hon. Friend for attending the debate.