23 March 2017
It’s almost a decade since the tragic floods of 2007 brought devastation to Sheffield’s communities.
And now, a flood defence scheme on the River Don, which started in design in 2014, is progressing well with construction and is due to be completed later this year.
The Lower Don Valley (LDV) scheme is one of six flood protection programmes taking place across Sheffield, which together aim to significantly reduce the chance of large-scale flooding ever happening again in the city.
Councillor Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for the environment, said: “We all remember the 2007 floods that caused such devastation to the city and, tragically, the loss of two lives.
“That’s why I’m so pleased that we pressed ahead with this flood protection scheme on the lower River Don, and are also progressing other flood protection programmes across the city.
“We will do, and are doing, our very best to protect Sheffield from flooding, now and into the future.”
The project involves the installation of more than 50 new flood protection measures, located along an 8km stretch of the River Don through the city’s historic industrial heartland between the Wicker and the M1 near Meadowhall.
Through large sections of the river, robust new defence structures can be seen, although the LDV will not be fully protected until all defences are complete. The final stages of the programme involve works at numerous locations, but predominantly along Meadowhall Road, and are set to be completed in the summer.
As well as providing improved physical flood defences such as new walls, dams and flood gates; the project is delivering a river channel maintenance programme to keep the river, particularly at “pinch points” such as bridges and culverts, clear of debris which can build up and exacerbate flooding – as occurred in 2007.
Delivered by the River Stewardship Company, a local social enterprise, this element of the programme has also resulted in real environmental benefits.
Weekly volunteer days ensure that the river and the bankside are clear from litter, debris and overgrown vegetation, thereby benefitting walkers, runners, cyclists, anglers and other users.
Since the flood protection programme started, otter tracks have been found along the river, while kingfishers, herons and more recently waxwings are frequently seen on the Don. All of these are an indication of improved water quality and an enhanced river environment.
The main aim of the project is to protect more than 500 businesses and properties, and thousands of jobs, as well as ensuring that the Lower Don Valley area remains a good place to do business and an attractive location for new investment.
Around 90 per cent of the funding for the scheme came from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency (EA), enabled by a significant contribution of £1.4m from the private sector raised through a Business Improvement District (BID).
This was not only the first BID in Sheffield, but the first in the country for a capital scheme, and will run until June 2019. Businesses within the area voted in favour of the scheme, which sees them paying into a pot that provides a contribution towards the construction works in addition to an ongoing revenue stream for the river channel maintenance regime, as well as testing and operation of moving flood defences like gates and doors.
Tony Dobson, Client Services Manager at Sheffield PDSA , has welcomed the programme.
He said “The PDSA is a charity providing veterinary care for the pets of people on low incomes, and we operate a 24-hour service from our premises on Newhall Road.
“The flood in 2007 prevented access to our site, and I support any improvements in the Lower Don Valley to prevent this from happening again, both for the benefit of our clients but also our neighbours in what is a thriving business community.”
Sheffield’s overall flood protection programme involves six separate flood alleviation schemes, to protect homes and businesses in different parts of the city.
These are this project in the Lower Don Valley; a flood alleviation scheme for the River Sheaf and Porter Brook; another flood alleviation scheme in the Upper Don; a culvert renewal programme; an environmental scheme to manage flooding and surface water from planned developments on the Manor and Arbourthorne estates; and a flood alleviation scheme on the upper Blackburn Brook, to benefit homes and businesses in Chapeltown and Ecclesfield.
The economic benefits of the programme include the potential for 15,000 new jobs, 27,000 new homes, 40 new businesses and £150million economic growth for Sheffield per year.