A Â£34 million flood defence scheme has been completed in the Cheshire town of Warrington. The scheme â€“ one of the first to be finished in the latest swathe of Environment Agency flood defences â€“ will protect 2000 homes and businesses from flooding from the River Mersey and its tributaries.
Composition of the Flood Scheme
The flood defences consist of a mixture of floodwalls, embankments and reed beds. The 7.2 kilometres of walls and embankments hold the waters back from key infrastructure points and the 12 acres of reed beds provide the water with an area to expand into when necessary. There has also been extensive tree planting in the area to soak up rainfall before it gets to the rivers. The new flood defences have been praised for expanding wildlife habitats.
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said at the opening of the new flood defences:
â€œThe scheme not only brings flood risk benefits but the work in the area is also good news for walkers, birdwatchers and wildlife. Itâ€™s been great to see the Environment Agency working together in partnership to better protect Warrington â€“ a fine example of what can be achieved by working with others. These new flood defences will not only benefit hundreds of homes and businesses in the area but will also safeguard critical infrastructure, vital in keeping the town moving.â€
There are dozens of schemes such as the one in Warrington due to be completed in the next few years. The result of a Â£2.5 billion government investment in flood defences being overseen by the Environment Agency. The money was made available in the 2013 Spending Review and we are starting to see some of the earlier projects come to fruition. The pot has been split approximately half-and-half between managing the risk of coastal erosion and managing inland flooding. Amongst the additional benefits calculated to be brought about by the Â£2.5 billion capital investment is a saving of Â£22.3 billion through damages avoided by protecting 300,000 households.
Value for Money?
In cases where many properties can be protected by big infrastructure projects like the Cheshire Scheme, it makes sense for the government to invest in improving the landscape to manage flood risk. Where smaller groups of properties are affected, it makes sense to make the properties themselves more resilient to flooding than to spend millions on redirecting rivers. It is a simple numbers game. Sometimes, the more economically viable choice for the Environment Agency is to provide property level protection. Installing flood resilience products is just as effective â€“ and significantly cheaper â€“ than investing in a major capital scheme.
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