Matlock snubbed as Government announces £860m investment in national flood defences
Matlock has been snubbed by the Government in a huge new round of spending on national flood defences – despite the Prime Minister’s assurances following the town centre’s devastation in 2019.
Last week the Government published its Flood and Coastal Erosion Investment Plan which will be backed by £5.2billion over the next six years.
More than £860million will be spent in 2021-22 boosting design and construction of more than 1,000 schemes across England as part of the Environment Agency’s annual capital programme.
£102.9m of that will be spent on more than 100 schemes in the East Midlands, but not a single one will take place in the Derbyshire Dales.
Responding to the news, constituency MP Sarah Dines said: “I am disappointed to see that Matlock is not included in the flood prevention schemes announced today.
“I am writing to the Secretary of State George Eustice, for clarification on how each area has been picked, as it is clear to me that Matlock would benefit greatly from flood prevention schemes.”
She added: “I have been working on the issue of flooding tirelessly since my election and I am seeking further urgent meetings with the county council and the Environment Agency to work with them on this ongoing issue.”
It is possible that Matlock will receive support in future years of the plan, with a consultation set to be launched in the autumn to develop more informed assessment of local circumstances, such as where areas have flooded on multiple occasions.
Visiting the town following floods in November 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson talked up the previous funding round, saying “We’ve got a huge programme of flood defences and flood preparation. There’s £2.6b going into it and I think £50m has gone into Derbyshire alone.”
Questions may be asked whether any of that money has made the town more resilient to the expected increase in extreme weather events caused by the climate crisis.
The Environment Agency has worked to improve local flood defences since 2019, including a technical survey which might demonstrate the need for investment, but in February 2021 Storm Christoph showed why many local businesses are living on a knife edge.