European funding could help fight flooding on the Ribble

River Ribble shortly after the Boxing Day floods in 2015.
River Ribble shortly after the Boxing Day floods in 2015.
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Thousands of homes and businesses close to the River Ribble could be in line for better protection against flooding - if a bid for European funding is approved.

Thousands of homes and businesses close to the River Ribble could be in line for better protection against flooding - if a bid for European funding is approved.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet yesterday gave the go-ahead for the authority to apply for £5.77m from a scheme designed to mitigate the effects of increased rainfall as a result of climate change.

The Riversway and Broadgate districts of Preston would be the first areas to benefit from the project.

Overall, the scheme would protect or enhance the protection of 2,700 homes and 600 businesses.

A report presented to cabinet revealed that existing defences in several areas of Preston and South Ribble are in “substantial need” of upgrading, at an estimated cost of £40m.

Almost 200 homes and businesses were hit by flooding in the area on Boxing Day in 2015. That was described as a 1-in-40-year event - and the risk of it happening in any given year is thought to be 2.5 percent.

The incident was later found to be a ‘near miss’, because it only just failed to coincide with high tides, which would have caused many more properties to be affected.

County Cllr Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of the Conservative-run authority, told cabinet members that the authority was “still entitled” to apply for European money and that there was “a good chance” of the bid being successful.

An outline application for the European Regional Defence Funding cash has already been approved. A full submission now needs to be made.

Community consultations in the affected areas are already underway and a prospective project board was formed last year.

In the report for the county council’s cabinet, members were told of the potential strain on the local authority’s finances of a repeat of the 2015 floods:

“As well as a very genuine impact...on affected businesses, community organisations and households, the impact on council services of a flooding event in Riversway and Broadgate would include emergency planning and resilience, adult and children's services, education, economic development, highways and communications.”

The Riversway and Broadgate section of the scheme is estimated to cost in the region of £10m. A successful application for European funding would also unlock up to £4.23m from other sources.