Burnley Council anger and disappointment as Environment Agency pauses Padiham flood defence scheme

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A hugely important flood defence scheme for Padiham, years in the making, has been put on hold by the Environment Agency.

The Burnley Express understands that later this month, possibly as early as next week, the Environment Agency is set to announce that work on the Padiham flood risk management scheme is to be “paused” due to a £19m. funding gap caused by rising construction costs and the “complexities” of the site.

Padiham has suffered from a number of huge flooding incidents in recent years, notably the Boxing Day floods of 2015.

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Burnley Council leader Coun. Afrasiab Anwar said: “The first I heard about this was on Tuesday and I immediately wrote to the Government Minister to express my disappointment on behalf of the residents of Padiham and requested to meet with him as soon as possible to see how this funding gap can be met.

Padiham was flooded on Boxing Day, 2015Padiham was flooded on Boxing Day, 2015
Padiham was flooded on Boxing Day, 2015

“I have emphasised to the Minister that the council stands ready to continue to support this project in whatever way we can.

“I'm absolutely astonished at the revelation that the costs of this project have more than quadrupled since 2020 to £37 million. We're all aware of the impact of inflation and rising costs, particularly in the construction industry, but something has seriously gone wrong here.

“I want to make clear Burnley Council's deep disappointment in the Environment Agency's inability to deliver the scheme on time and in budget, particularly given that the council has secured nearly £5m million toward the project through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and other funding partners. I know also that the borough's MP has been working hard to secure additional funding.

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“I take some small comfort from the fact that the scheme has been 'paused'. If the Government is truly committed to Levelling Up places such as Burnley and Padiham then finding the extra funding for this scheme would be a great way of showing that. For the sake of the people of Padiham, who live with the threat of flooding in their homes and businesses, I sincerely hope that the Environment Agency is successful in finding the money needed to make this essential project a reality.”

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Padiham flood defence work to start this week

The Environment Agency, Burnley Borough Council and partners have been working together to develop proposals for a Padiham Flood Risk Management Scheme. This includes flood walls and earth embankments as well as modifications to highways.

The proposals will better protect over 150 homes, businesses, public buildings and key infrastructure in central Padiham. It will manage flood risk from the River Calder, Green Brook and surface water.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “Inflationary pressures and complexities at the site have increased the cost of the Padiham flood scheme since the project started so we are regrettably having to pause construction whilst we review the design along with exploring additional sources of funding.

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“We remain committed to doing everything possible to protect the people of Padiham from flooding and will continue working closely with the council and the local community on next steps for the scheme.”

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