Another blow for town defence

THE Morpeth flood scheme has been dealt another blow as it was left out of a list of national projects to be funded this year.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced yesterday that 39 new flood and coastal defence projects would go ahead in the 2011/12 budget, while 108 schemes already under construction would continue and a further 187 projects would receive cash for development work and possible construction in future years.

However, Morpeth was snubbed entirely and did not feature in any list.

The schemes are subject to approval from the Regional Flood Defence Committees, but it is feared that Morpeth’s fate has already been decided.

Morpeth Flood Action Group Chairman Alan Bell said: “I think we can now take it for granted that the Morpeth scheme is not included in the budget for 2011/2012.

“This announcement is more or less saying that there will be nothing in it for Morpeth and the scheme is not going to go ahead in the next financial year, unless someone can find £4million.

“We need to keep the ball rolling though and keep up the pressure.”

Mr Benyon said £521million will be spent over the next year on managing flood risks across the country.

“Protecting homes from the threat of flooding and coastal erosion is incredibly important for the Government and schemes which will contribute the most in terms of protection to households and economic benefit per pound spent have been prioritised,” he said.

Government funding for those schemes not listed will be subject to the outcome of consultation on funding reforms.