Fight goes on for flood project

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COUNCILS are pressing the case for Morpeth’s multi-million pound flood alleviation scheme to get the go-ahead.

Both Morpeth Town Council and Northumberland County Council are lobbying the Environment Agency to call for the £17million plan to still be approved in the wake of cuts to its flood maintenance budget, which could have an impact on the town’s scheme.

The Agency meets tomorrow to discuss the latest situation, with residents still waiting for news on whether it has been put forward as a priority for funding.

Work could then begin to build up flood defences in Morpeth town centre and create an upstream floodwater storage reservoir.

The Government recently published the budget allocations for the next four years for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its related bodies.

Within the Environment Agency budget, its flood management allocation will fall 17 percent next year — from £629m to £520.8m. By 2014/15, this is scheduled to drop further to £485.2m.

With 2010/11 being a record figure, the average of £540m a year for the next four years is a cut of just eight per cent on the £590m spent on average each year over the last four years.

But this may lower the funding given to projects where the main works have yet to start, such as the Morpeth Flood Alleviation Scheme.

Morpeth Town Council member David Parker said: “We wrote to the Environment Agency a few weeks ago about it, saying that we hoped its committee would approve it.

“There is a meeting this Friday when it will be looking at it so obviously Morpeth needs as much support as it can get at the moment.”