Wednesday, February 23, 2022

News: Rising costs for Rotherham town centre flood defences


Further funding is being sought to continue a much needed flood alleviation scheme through Rotherham.

Work started at the end of last year and can't come soon enough for Rotherham Central station which was forced to close again this week due to flooding.

A new application for funding highlights cost overruns, upwardly revised cost estimates and an increase in material costs.

A new multimillion-pound canal barrier at Forge Island, flood defences from Ickles Lock to Centenary Way on the edge of the town centre and the Forge Island Flood Wall and Public Realm works (already constructed) are central phases of the Rotherham to Kilnhurst Flood Alleviation Scheme that Rotherham Council (RMBC) is already delivering along 5km of the River Don.

Having previously identified a £4.5m shortfall in funding for the three phases, the council is now hoping to secure a £2m grant from the gainshare pot of South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA), along with £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) before it ends.

MCA papers show that "if this funding is not secured, Phases 2A and 2C would need to be stopped at a point in their construction."

The total scheme cost is £7.54m and work is due to be completed in the summer.

The paper adds: "There has already been cost overruns to Ickle Lock (2A), upwardly revised cost estimates to the design of the Canal Barrier (2C) and an increase in material costs. The responsibility for funding the project broadly lies with the RMBC and to provide additional funding where there is a shortfall. If either of the MCA Gainshare and ERDF funding requests are unsuccessful, RMBC will have to bid from its own capital funding programme. Even if successful, it cannot be allocated until March 2022, as part of the annual budget setting cycle, and drawn down until July 2022 at the earliest. Therefore, phases 2A and 2C would have to be halted.

"This OBC [outline business case] is requesting additional funds to support the higher cost of delivery of Phases 2A and the funding shortfall of Phases 2B and 2C combined, which will free up RMBC capital funds for pre-construction works on future phases, and thereby enable momentum to be maintained on these crucial future works."

The rail link at Rotherham has been badly affected by flooding on several occasions with Network Rail set to contribute £400,000 towards the delivery of the canal barrier to provide resilience to this section of their network.

The station is set to reopen today (Wednesday February 23) after being overwhelmed with water during Storm Franklin – the third storm to hit the railway in a week.

The pre-emptive decision to close the station was made on Saturday February 19 based on the Environmental Agency's river level readings at the time. By acting before any flooding hit the station, Network Rail engineers were able to remove critical equipment from the ground, which has proved crucial to reducing the impact of flood damage.

Engineers have spent three days pumping water away from the railway between Aldwarke and Tinsley. As water levels reduced, further damage was uncovered and this has required additional repairs.

Matt Rice, North & East Route Director for Network Rail said: “Storms Franklin, Dudley and Eunice have brought relentless challenges for the railway over the last week, including significant flooding in Rotherham.

“Our teams have worked 24/7 to pump water away from the tracks and work towards getting the railway back up and running for passengers in South Yorkshire. I’d like to thank people for bearing with us as we deliver a safe and reliable railway.”

Images: Network Rail


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