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Dominic Grieve: I'll help to find funds for flood defences
MARLOW MP Dominic Grieve insists he will do his best to lobby colleagues in the government to bridge the gap in funding to install a multi-million flood defence for Marlow.
Mr Grieve cleared his schedule to visit residents worst affected by the floods and meet firefighters working round the clock to keep properties dry amid near-record river levels.
Wycombe District Council leader Richard Scott yesterday called for the mooted £6.3million Environment Agency Flood Alleviation scheme to be made a top priority.
And the Attorney General supported Cllr Scott’s pleas for the government to fill the estimated £1.25million funding gap that stands in the way of beginning the project, saying he will speak to colleagues in the Department for Farming and Rural Agriculture (Defra).
Mr Grieve said: “I am very conscious of the flood defences issue, and I was discussing it last summer. If there’s anything I can do to get that million or so bridged then I will.
“I will certainly speak to Defra about it, but I also have to recognise that Defra will have a lot of other demands on its funds.
“You cannot escape flooding, it has flooded before and I fear it will flood again even with other things we might to prevent it, but every time it happens you learn a bit and you can do something more to prevent it and mitigate it.”
The Marlow plans include constructing flood walls, bunds, and groundwater pumping wells at Pound Lane, Lower Pound Lane, Gossmore Lane and Firview Close.
The ambitious plan could help protect 300 homes from flooding, many of which have suffered already this year after the wettest January on record.
It received planning permission in 2010, but has been put on hold due to funding problems.
The Enviromnent Agency disagrees with the £1.25m funding gap figure quoted by Richard Scott and see the shortfall at nearer £3m.
It said as well as £2.96m from the Government Grant in Aid funding, the Regional Flood and Costal Committee (RFCC) have pledged to match funding from the county council.
Spokesman Dan Taylor said: “The Council has now indicated they would be able to make a contribution towards the scheme, which would be matched by the RFCC.
"Unfortunately, this still leaves us with a gap in funding of around £3m.
“Without sufficient funding the scheme cannot go ahead, and we are not in a position to progress unless further funds can be made available.”
This comes as Member of European Parliament for the south east Catherine Bearder called on councils in Bucks to apply for EU funding towards flood prevention.
She has written to the leaders of Bucks County Council and Wycombe District Council to encourage them to ask for cash from the EU Regional Development Fund.
Ms Bearder also stressed that £414million is available in 2014 from the EU Solidarity Fund, which can only be applied for by national governments.
But the MEP said she has been told by the Department for Communities and Local Government that the government will not be applying to that fund following the recent flooding.
She said: “Whole swathes of Buckinghamshire, especially Marlow, have been affected by these horrendous floods which have blighted the festive and New Year season for many local residents.
“The Government have decided not to apply for the solidarity funds. I think it is now the local councils’ job to work together and apply for regional funds.
“This funding could prove vital, it could ensure defences are built so people no longer have to worry every time clouds appear overhead.
“I am now offering my full support and assistance to Mr Tett and Mr Scott to apply for funding on a regional basis to aid with building defences for the future.
"The requirements for this funding are less stringent and it can be directed more easily. This will ensure a safer and drier Marlow when future storms hit.”