Agency pledges flood scheme

THE Environment Agency has pledged that it will deliver a flood defence scheme for Morpeth.

Although its original plans for upstream flood water storage areas and new defence walls in the town are set to be delayed, a new system of funding should mean that it will not miss out altogether.

The organisation has said it may need to look into other options such as delivering either the upstream storage or flood walls, phasing the current scheme over a longer period of time and reducing the level of protection provided.

At a Northumberland County Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Alan Cadas from the Environment Agency spoke about two papers that are in the consultation process – the agency’s national strategy and new Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs regulations for funding of flood defence schemes.

“With the current system you work your way through the queue and if you have a low score you sit at the bottom – this consultation reforms how we do that,” he said.

“It allows every single scheme to draw down some funding, depending on the number of properties and commercial residents.

“It may not cover the total costs of the scheme, which is a big difference to what happens now.”

Mr Cadas added: “The Environment Agency is determined to develop a scheme that works for Morpeth.

“We will get there for Morpeth.”

Under the plans, the private sector, councils and other organisations would be able to contribute a significant amount to projects.

“However, in some schemes this alternative funding would be essential for them to go ahead.

Committee Chairman Glen Sanderson called on the Environment Agency to return in three months with an update on decisions made from the consultation.