22 January 2018

A £20 million project delivering flood defences to better protect hundreds of businesses in Sheffield’s Lower Don Valley will be unveiled on Thursday (25 January).

Sir James Bevan, the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency and Councillor Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, will be among the speakers at an event, attended by local business owners, to mark the completion of the work.

The events of the 2007 and 2012 floods, which caused millions of pounds of damage to property, led to the development of the project. The area was one of the worst hit by the 2007 floods and for the last seven years Sheffield City Council has been leading on the Lower Don Valley flood defence project to develop affordable flood defences.

The Lower Don Valley area is second only to the city centre for economic importance to Sheffield. The new flood alleviation scheme will benefit over 500 businesses and safeguard around 5, 000 jobs, key roads in and out of the city and homes along a five mile stretch of the River Don.

It is the first scheme of its kind in the UK to have business owners contributing to the costs of the flood protection through the creation of a formal Business Improvement District. Local businesses are contributing a total of £1.4 million, with more than 90 per cent of the total capital cost of £20.7 million funded by the Environment Agency and Defra.

Construction work has involved the installation of more than 60 new flood protection measures to the River Don, between the Wicker and the M1 at Meadowhall, and has significantly reduced the risk of flooding.

Councillor Julie Dore, the leader of Sheffield City Council said: “ I am delighted to see we have fulfilled our promise to strengthen our defences against floods.

“We have seen an innovative and pioneering approach to allow us to invest in these important flood defences and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the Business Improvement District, who have made this possible through working together.

“We will continue to push for the funding we need to improve flood protection throughout the city.”

Councillor Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene added: “As well as building flood defences such as new walls and flood gates, that will see us through any future problems, we have put in place a maintenance programme to ensure the river is kept clear of debris which can build up and worsen flooding, as happened in the past.

“We will continue our engagement with the local business community to make them aware of their responsibilities for the river and what measures they need to take to protect themselves from flooding.”

“We will also be working with local schools and anyone else who wants to volunteer to enhance the environment, both in the river, and along the footpaths so that people can enjoy the River Don.”

The voluntary efforts and educational work will be led by a local social enterprise the River Stewardship Company. A proportion of the money raised by the BID will go towards the costs of maintaining the river.

Richard Wright, Executive Director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “Weather extremes are hitting the news more frequently and may well become the norm which is why it is so good to get flood defences installed now in the Lower Don Valley.

“Insurance cover for flood risk is increasingly harder to get but the installation of these defences should help us moving forward.

“This revolutionary project is a great example of successful partnership working and could not have been delivered without private sector investment. We are delighted that the business community played its part by raising £1.4million through a Business Improvement District to support the project.”

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency said: “Flooding has devastating costs for people and businesses – and we know this has been the case for the people of Sheffield.

“This fantastic scheme will not only benefit homes and businesses in the city but it will also safeguard thousands of jobs due to the increased level of protection it provides. It’s been great to see Sheffield City Council and the Environment Agency working together in partnership to better protect the Lower Don Valley.”

The LDV scheme has been shortlisted for an award as the best project over £5 million in the Institute of Civil Engineers Yorkshire and Humber Awards 2018.