£7m flood defence scheme in Croston 'already proved its worth'
Croston's £7m flood defence scheme has already paid for itself by preventing massive damage to homes and other properties in the Lancashire village.
That was one of the facts emerging today as the Environment Agency announced the completion of its six-year programme to protect more than 300,000 homes and businesses across England from the effects of climate change through the construction of flood and coastal defences.
£2.6 billion has been invested since 2015, with the Environment Agency and partners delivering more than 700 new projects.
The programme has seen the construction of numerous significant and innovative schemes, including tidal barriers, traditional walls and embankments, and the use of natural flood management to reduce flood risk while benefitting nature.
One of the major projects was the Croston Flood Risk Management Scheme which followed the devastating floods on Boxing Day 2015.
Croston suffered from three sources of flooding – from the river, surface water and foul sewer flooding.
Three hundred and forty four properties were affected, with many families having to move into temporary accommodation.
That proved the turning point, and the Environment Agency worked in partnership with Chorley Borough Council, Lancashire County Council and United Utilities to improve the situation.
Now the town has a fully functioning flood defence scheme, and the Environment Agency's Andy Brown says that the defences have worked on five or six occasions in recent years when called on.
Andy, flood and coastal risk manager for Lancashire, said at the site of the Croston scheme today: "This scheme has basically paid for itself already in terms of the amount of damage that has been avoided.
"The village does have other problems like road drainage and the sewers but we have not seen a repeat of what happened in 2015."
The completed £7m Croston Flood Risk Management scheme included the construction of an upstream online flood storage area on the River Yarrow.
A 600m long earth embankment was constructed across the river, capable of retaining up to 1.3M m3 of water.
As a result, a total of 438 properties in Croston now have reduced risk of flooding from the River Yarrow.
The scheme was funded by Government, councils and the Environment Agency and the site on the outskirts of the village was chosen for its perfect contours.
The flood gates on the river can be closed when the danger signs are there, allowing the surrounding countryside to act as a reservoir.
The water stays in the countryside, never reaching Croston. And they are slowly opened, releasing the water, when the time is right.
It is a shining example one of the major schemes carried out by the Environment Agency around Lancashire.
Others have included schemes on the Fylde coast, Lancaster and Morecambe and there are now proposals for a scheme for the River Ribble in Preston which will be considered later in the year.
Andy said community involvement was vital - and he praised local councils and the Lower Yarrow Flood Action Group who were very active in working with the Environment Agency in Croston.
The agency is always looking to the future, and Andy says that climate change will continue to pose a problem.
He said: "Building defences isn't enough in itself. Climate change is making it harder for us.
"Everyone needs to adapt and plan for their homes and properties.
"You should always have an emergency plan just in case, for escape, for power and so on."
Lancashire County Councillor Stephen Clarke, chair of the Lancashire Strategic Flood Risk Partnership, said: "I am delighted to see the progress being made in recent years with the flood protection schemes along our coastlines and rivers.
"These are high-quality schemes, many of which are designed so that they provide additional amenities for locals and visitors, as well as providing vital protection for local residents and businesses.
"The Lancashire Strategic Flood Risk Partnership will continue to work with our partners to look at new and acceptable ways to manage flood risk in all our communities."