ENSURING Portsmouth is protected from floods is a government priority.
That was the message from environment secretary Elizabeth Truss yesterday as she visited Southsea to see work that’s been done to repair a section of sea barrier damaged in poor weather.
Mrs Truss praised action taken by the council to plug huge holes in the promenade and sea wall behind The Pyramids Centre using rocks shipped up from Cornwall.
But the work is only a temporary fix – and Mrs Truss assured the government will be providing £117m as part a six year programme to completely replace Southsea’s ageing flood defences.
Speaking to The News, Mrs Truss said: ‘You can see what has happened and the big holes that were left. What is good to see is rapid action has been taken to fill those gaps in.
‘The funding is in place as part of a six-year programme to invest in coastal defences.
‘It’s a priority to ensure that replacement work happens.’
Mrs Truss also backed Portsmouth City Council’s plans to enhance the new defences so that they include amphitheatre-style seating and cycle access.
And she hopes all of the improvements will boost the region’s economy.
Mrs Truss said: ‘What we are doing with flood defence improvements is making sure as many local partners are involved and they fill as many purposes as they can.
What we are doing with flood defence improvements is making sure as many local partners are involved and they fill as many purposes as they can. But the key is the city has the protection it needs.Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss
‘But the key is the city has the protection it needs.
‘One of the key aims with our flood defences is that they improve economic delivery and growth, because businesses would then have the confidence to locate in an area where proper protection is in place.’
Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond, who showed Mrs Truss the repair works done so far, said: ‘It’s really, really important that we get these flood defences in place pretty quickly.
‘We have seen what has happened this year, and we need to make sure next year and the year after we don’t have that problem again.’
The council has spent up to £600,000 repairing the damage done to the sea defences – but it is putting together a bid to the Environment Agency for ‘emergency funds’ to recover costs.