Boris Johnson has been urged to make investing in flood defences in the North a priority.
The IPPR North think tank has today (19 December) called on the newly-elected prime minister to make a commitment to communities at risk of flooding to act now to prevent future devastation, by putting the environment – including North’s natural assets like water- at the heart of decision making.
One of the think tank’s research fellows, Jack Hunter said while greater investment in flood defences should be a priority of the next phase of the Northern Powerhouse, ‘hard’ infrastructure like barriers and dams are only part of the solution.
Instead, he argues that greater flood resilience will also require a much more holistic approach – which focuses on how decisions about land use, agriculture, development and architectural design impact upon the overall flood risk of an area.
Mr Hunter also called on leaders across the North, including Metro Mayors, to use their influence to work together towards a flood resilient North.
IPPR North has warned that that the consequences of inaction could be devastating to the Northern economy, yet around twice as much is spent on the after-effects of flooding, as is spent on flood defences.
‘Too many families in the North will be unable to spend Christmas at home this year owing to floods. Long after the TV cameras leave flood affected areas- people and communities are left to deal with the practical, financial and emotional devastation of flooding,’ said Mr Hunter.
‘Floods have a huge impact on our economy too, yet we spend less on preventing them than we do fixing the damage they cause. This doesn’t make sense and it must change.
‘Nothing the government does to level up the country will matter if those places are flooded. Building greater resilience among vulnerable communities means that we need to think much more holistically about how decisions about land, agriculture, development and architectural design impact upon the overall flood risk of an area.’
The warning comes as Yorkshire Water announced it will lower reservoir levels above Hebden Bridge for the winter in a bid to reduce flood risk.
The leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, added: ‘It is hoped that this will pave the way for a more permanent approach to reservoir water levels that will complement the flood alleviation and natural flood management works being delivered in and around Hebden Bridge, helping to mitigate the impacts of our changing climate on the flood risk both locally and downstream.’
Photo Credit – Yorkshire Water