The government is spending almost £70 million in a six-year period to protect thousands of homes in Birmingham from flood risk.
The Environment Agency told BirminghamWorld, over £70 million was spent on flood risk benefits, better protecting over 600 properties between 2015-2021. In the current 6-year programme 2021–2027, a further £70 million is planned on flood risk benefits, better protecting almost 3,000 properties.
The flood defences schemes in Birmingham have previously caused controversy with MP Liam Byrne raising the issue in Parliament as protection for families at risk was delayed.
The Environment Agency has announced that two main schemes in Birmingham cover the following areas:
Middle Tame Perry Barr and Witton (approx £50 million) which will better protect just under 1,000 properties.
River Tame Bromford and Castle Vale (approx £30 million) which will better protect over 1,500 properties.
The Environment Agency urged the whole country to prepare for flooding this winter with the warning of “ignoring the danger at your own peril”.
Caroline Douglass, Executive Director of Flooding at the Environment Agency, said: “It is vital that people take the necessary preparations as early as possible to prepare for the worst.
“Our recent investment programme has better protected 314,000 homes from flooding and we’re investing millions into keeping communities safe, but we can’t stop all flooding.
“The message is clear - households risk ignoring the danger of flooding at their own peril. Anyone can go online to check if they are at risk, sign up for Environment Agency warnings, and, most importantly, know what you need to do if flooding hits.”
Here is everything to know about the flood management schemes in Birmingham.
Perry Barr and Witton flood management
In Perry Barr and Witton, there are approximately 1,400 properties, including 950 residential properties, at risk from the River Tame.
The Environment Agency, supported by Birmingham City Council, is working on improving defences and building new ones, including increasing the capacity of an existing flood storage area in the Sandwell Valley.
In Phase 1 of the scheme - which was largely completed in spring 2017 - new flood walls, flood gates and flow conveyance improvements from Brookvale Road in Witton down to Gravelly Park Industrial Estate in Aston were done.
The improved flood wall and flood gates in Witton successfully stopped properties from flooding in May 2018 and February 2020.
In Phase 2 of the scheme, improvement works to culverts under the railway line in this area were done as well as improving flood storage capacity in Sandwell Valley.
Bromford and Castle Vale flood management
According to Birmingham City Council documents, “This scheme will better protect more than 900 homes and businesses from flooding and has attracted a sizeable contribution from Homes England.
“The scheme involves raising flood walls and constructing new ones and earth embankments. A cycling route will be provided along the south bank linking up with the existing networks at Bromford Road and Chester Road.”
The work was supposed to end in March 2021, according to Lab MP for Hodge Hill Liam Byrne. The flood defence work had overrun and in January 2022 MP Liam Byrne raised the issue in the parliament.
“The upshot of this terrible saga is that the overrunning of flood defence work denied those from one of the poorest communities in Birmingham access to their public park for two years throughout the length of lockdown.
“This estate has one of the worst health outcomes in the West Midlands, yet throughout the pandemic and throughout this health crisis the green space that was the preserve of our community was fenced off and denied to residents and their children,” he said.
He added: “The River Tame does not flood very often; it floods, to a serious level, perhaps once in a century, but that will obviously have a devastating impact on the communities of the Bromford and, indeed, Castle Vale. The flood defences were important, and they help us to unlock new housing development, which in turn is a catalyst for renewal.”