Flood plan to protect Shropshire communities 'to cost at least £20m'

Two flood defence schemes for areas repeatedly hit over the past three years would cost at least £20 million, the Government says.

Flooding in Coleham earlier this year
Flooding in Coleham earlier this year

Hundreds of properties in Shrewsbury, Ironbridge, Bridgnorth, as well as a number of villages, have suffered significant flooding in 2020, 2021, and again in February this year.

Flooding minister Rebecca Pow is set to meet to discuss the issue next month, but she has outlined the current state of proposals to help reduce the impact, in a letter to Shrewsbury & Atcham's Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski.

Mr Kawczynski has been vocal in pressing for action over the flooding, warning of the devastating impact on people repeatedly affected – as well as the overall economic cost to the county.

The Environment Agency (EA) has been working on the Severn Valley Water Management Plan (SVWMS) for some time, with hopes that the proposal will result in a raft of measures that retain more water upstream, and slow it down – preventing the kind of flooding that has been seen in recent years.

Mrs Pow has now revealed information about three other projects that could help some of communities hit by flooding – although two are likely governed by the ability to secure millions of pounds in funding to pay for them.

They include one for the Coton Hill area, another for Coleham, and one at Attingham Park that could aid those living downstream in Ironbridge and Bridgnorth.

The Minister said that a plan to protect Coleham in Shrewsbury would cost at least £14m, while another for Coton Hill in the town would cost a minimum of £6m.

They would protect 106 and 44 properties respectively.

Regarding Coton Hill she said: "The EA recently conducted an initial flooding assessment for Shrewsbury, in which the Coton Hill area flood risk was reviewed.

"This assessment showed there are 44 properties that could benefit from a flood risk management scheme.

"The most feasible option requires further funding of £6 million to be secured.

"There are also significant challenges around the historic setting of the area, which will likely increase the future costs.

"The EA continues to work with communities and all partner organisations to find solutions to these challenges."

Mrs Pow said that detailed plans had not yet been drawn up for Coleham, and that any scheme was likely to cost at least £14m.

She said: "A flood risk management scheme in Coleham could better protect up to 106 properties from flood risk.

"The EA has commissioned a study of the area to gather all the available information around the River Severn and the Rea Brook, that contributes to the flood risk.

"The opportunities for funding and impact on wider infrastructure will be the next steps considered.

"The most viable option for an improvement scheme at this location is currently showing that it requires further funding of £14 million, which may be an underestimate, as a detailed design has not yet been produced."

Mr Pow also said that a potential project for Attingham Park, which could be part of the SVWMS, has been examined in a preliminary report.

She said: "In collaboration with the National Trust, there are proposals for landscape recovery within Attingham Park that will increase the water storage potential in this area. I understand a pre-feasibility report commissioned by the National Trust indicated a potential opportunity for storing 650,000m3 of flood water on site. I look forward to hearing how the detailed feasibility study progresses."

Mr Kawczynski said he would be lobbying for progress on the smaller, immediate flood schemes such as Coleham and Coton Hill, as well as an overall plan for the River Severn.

He said: "There are few issues which impede Shrewsbury's long-term economic prosperity more than what has become almost an annual event."

He added: "Work is being done to manage the River Severn holistically but in the short term we need specific small scale defences at particular parts of Shrewsbury and every week I will be putting in a request to secure a debate on the specific small scale projects so we can go to the people of Coleham and Coton HIll to say this is what we are trying to do to secure flood defences for our communities."

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