THOUSANDS of homes and businesses in Portsmouth are set to be protected for generations to come after the government unveiled a £44m flood defence deal.
The announcement was made this morning by floods minister Thérèse Coffe during a visit to the city.
The work on the ongoing £44m scheme will provide more than five miles of new flood defences to North Portsea, ahead of construction on the Tipner Lake phase starting this spring.
The scheme will also create new areas for wildlife and plants with mudflat habitat in Langstone Harbour already being reclaimed, making the area more attractive for local residents and encouraging wildlife.
Ultimately, it will protect 2,066 homes and businesses on the island.
Speaking during her trip to the city, Mrs Coffey said: ‘Portsmouth’s new defences will better protect over 2,000 homes and businesses in the city - giving people living and working here peace of mind.
‘This scheme is part of our commitment to invest over £142m in Hampshire’s flood defences and, as well as reducing the flooding risk, it will create new habitats to support local wildlife that will be enjoyed by both residents and visitors.’
The move has been welcomed by the Environment Agency.
James Humphrys, the agency’s deputy Director for the Solent and South Downs area, said: ‘The Environment Agency continues to work in partnership with Portsmouth City Council to reduce the risk of flooding from the sea, including future rises in sea levels due to climate change.
‘We helped the Council secure government funding, to ensure the successful delivery of the North Portsea Island flood alleviation scheme, which will significantly reduce the risk of coastal flooding to 1,100 residential and 160 commercial properties along a 5 mile length of the North Portsea coastline.’
Portsmouth has a 17-mile coastline and the second highest population density in the UK after London - strong flood defences are therefore vital to help protect homes and businesses.
The six-phase scheme has already seen the Anchorage Park and Milton Common sections completed with work on Tipner Lake is due to start in April. The entire scheme is due to be completed in 2022.
In addition to this work, plans are also underfoot for new strengthened flood defences in Southsea. This scheme will cost £96m and provide better protection to a further 4,854 homes and businesses. Work on the scheme will start next year.
Ahead of any extreme weather this winter, the government has invested £12.5m for new temporary defences, meaning the Environment Agency now has 250 high volume pumps and 25 miles of mobile barriers that can be moved quickly around the country, wherever they are needed.
Three army battalions have also undergone extensive floods training, with up to 1,200 soldiers on 24-hour standby and ready to move quickly across the country if needed.