Winter floods cost estimated £250 million - and final total could be higher


This winter's floods caused almost £250 million in damage to roads, bridges, public rights of way and drainage systems, a survey by town hall chiefs has revealed.

The snapshot analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) warns councils have been hit with a huge bill following storms Desmond and Eva and the flooding they brought.

The final tally could be even higher, as councils are still counting the cost of the winter devastation.

The worst-hit council was Cumbria, which saw around £175 million in damage to local authority-owned infrastructure, with costs for flood-hit bridges, landslips, carriageway damage, survey work and the need to build a temporary road on the A591.

Calderdale has a bill of £33 million, Northumberland £24 million and Lancashire has suffered £5 million damage due to the floods.

The LGA said Government funding had been important in helping local authorities and communities recover from the floods, but warned councils will need more help as the full cost of damage emerges.

The organisation also called for new flood defence funding to be devolved to local areas so authorities can work with communities and businesses to ensure money is spent where it is most needed.

Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's environment, economy, housing and transport board, said: "The devastation wreaked by this winter's flooding has landed councils with a bill of nearly £250 million - just for damage to key infrastructure like roads and bridges.

"Councils are still literally counting the cost and the final bill is likely to be much higher.

"Government has gone a long way to helping hard-hit communities get back on their feet. But it is clear more financial support will be needed for councils.

"Other measures from government could also make a massive difference in helping councils. These include allowing them to keep landfill tax and devolving new flood defence funding to local areas," he said.

Local authorities have been hit with a landfill tax bill of more than £2.25 million, as a result of the amount of flood-ruined furniture, belongings and white goods which cannot be recycled and have to be dumped in the ground, the LGA said.

A Government spokesman said: "The LGA's request fails to take into account the £130 million announced at the Budget to repair roads and bridges damaged by December's floods, with councils able to decide themselves which projects this is spent on.

"Nor does it take account of the £700 million additional investment in flood defences, taking total investment to a record £3 billion to protect more households from future events.

"This is part of wider measures we're taking to stand squarely behind flood-affected communities for the long-haul."