Devon County Council has announced that it will be bidding for a share of a £5 million fund announced by Defra to improve flood prevention.
The two-year pilot scheme, Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder, will provide up to 20 communities with grants for flood risk management to improve resilience to flooding in communities across the country.
It coincides with the publication of Devon County Council’s Flood Investigation Report into the summer floods in July, which may be used to help form the basis of its funding bid to the Government.
During the floods in July, more than 230 homes and businesses were flooded, with East Devon one of the worst affected areas. Axminster was hardest hit as 67 properties in the town were flooded.
The report highlights that in some parts of Devon on the weekend of July 7 and 8, more than twice the monthly average rainfall fell in 24 hours. That was combined with summer vegetation causing river levels to be higher than in winter. In many affected areas, debris grills became blocked and culverts were overwhelmed by the volume of water.
Actions set out in the report will be prioritised by the relevant authority responsible and will be monitored regularly by Devon County Council’s flood management team.
A number of schemes are already underway or are currently being prepared as a result of the investigations, including the inspection and clearance of drains and culverts and ensuring watercourses and rivers are not restricted or blocked.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, chairman of the Devon Flood Risk Management Partnership and Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, said:
“I welcome the Government’s announcement of further investment in flood protection and we will be keen to bid for a share of it. We have seen from the two major events we’ve suffered this year that vital investment is needed to protect our communities from flooding.
“The Flood Investigation Report has highlighted a number of actions, some of which are already underway or have been completed. It also raises concerns over new developments and is seeking developers to be encouraged to use sustainable drainage to minimise any impact on the surrounding area when new housing is built. All of the authorities and agencies are working closely together to ensure the recommended actions are progressed.
“The flooding event in July was unusual in that its intensity was more typical of winter rainfall. But as we have seen with last month’s flooding, these events appear to be occurring more and more frequently. The communities affected by flooding are providing us with information at our on-going flood drop-in sessions and I’m sure that will help inform our bid for Government funding.”
Defra is inviting local authorities across England to come forward with proposals to improve their communities’ resilience to flooding, and funding for the successful applicants will begin in March 2013.
The County Council is currently working with the Environment Agency, South West Water, and City and District Councils in the county on gathering information on the recent flooding by holding a number of drop-in sessions.
A report on the November event is expected to be published early next year.