Question by Dan Daley to Paul Carter, Leader of the Council
This winter we have witnessed the devastating impact of flooding across the county. This has had far-reaching economic, social and environmental consequences. With our climate appearing to become increasingly turbulent, there is an increasingly pressing need for better flood defence and mitigation to help vulnerable communities, including those neighbourhoods which have been exposed to localised flooding.
The Leader's commitment to find the partnership funding to match Government backing for new flood defence and mitigation works is warmly welcomed. It is nonetheless understood that, in order to attract Central Government funding, the proposed schemes will need to satisfy the Treasury's investment criteria. Will the Leader confirm that KCC will ensure that a comprehensive audit of all the recently flooded areas will be undertaken which takes into account all the financial, social and environmental impacts?
Having witnessed first-hand the devastating effect of the floods on local residents and business owners of Yalding over the Christmas break, I am committed to the investment in flood defences to prevent such extensive water damage reoccurring in the future, and the associated risk to loss of life.
I was therefore delighted to hear Danny Alexander say "there is plenty of money there to build new flood defence schemes" on his visit to Yalding in February and his commitment to "make sure there is no Treasury barrier".
My letter to him outlined Kent County Council's commitment to find 50% of the implementation costs of increasing the capacity at the Leigh Barrier, and creating a Lower Beult storage area, provided we have Central Government's commitment to pay the other half.
I am awaiting Danny Alexander's reply. I accept that, in order to attract Central Government funding, the proposed schemes will need to satisfy the Treasury's investment criteria, and we will commission the necessary work, including the appropriate audits, when we have arrived at a conclusion, working with the Environment Agency and other interested parties, as to what holds the best solution to mitigate the substantial risk of future flooding.