Ipswich: Tidal barrier could attract funds from £60m government cash-pot
19:22 30 November 2012
THE Ipswich tidal barrier has been highlighted by the Treasury as a project which could attract funding from a new £60m government cash-pot.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander yesterday announced a total of £120m which he said would strengthen flood defences around the country, in order to protect homes and businesses in areas of high risk.
The first £60m will be handed to the Environment Agency to distribute. Meanwhile the second £60m will be targeted at flood defence projects which would particularly help boost economic growth.
Officials from the Treasury told the East Anglian Daily Times that the Ipswich tidal barrier was the sort of scheme they would expect could benefit from some funding in the second pot, as it would deliver “growth potential” as well as mitigating flood risk.
The scheme, costing £54m in total, would see a tidal barrier built to protect 1,600 homes and 240 commercial properties in the town centre against significant flood risk, as well as allowing derelict waterside land to be redeveloped.
The announcement comes amid clean-up operations across the UK in the aftermath of the recent flooding which devastated communities in the South West, Midlands, Wales and North East.
Mr Alexander said: “The damage to so many households and businesses this week from the severe flooding seen across the country has been devastating.
“This £120m boost to flood defences will accelerate improved flood protection for up to 60,000 homes and deliver much needed help to flood-threatened businesses across the country”
The exact mechanism through which Ipswich Council can apply for the funding will be set out in further detail in the autumn statement which is due to be made by the chancellor on Wednesday.
But Labour’s shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: “This year’s floods have shown how short-sighted the government was to cut investment in flood defences by £95m a year, leaving homes and businesses unprotected.
“Flooding is the biggest threat the UK faces from climate change, yet even after today’s mini U turn the government will still be spending less on flood defences next year than in 2008.”
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has been leading the fight for the flood defences, and was delighted at the news.
He said: “This is really fantastic. It will protect the town from the dangers of climate change and the risks of flooding for many many years.”
Mr Gummer said the news was especially satisfying, because it meant he had achieved what he had aimed at during his first term as MP.
He said: “When I was elected I pledged to fight for five major projects for the town: new schools for Holywells and Chantry, the new rail chord, the Travel Ipswich project, and the flood defences. This is the fifth of those.”