INTERACTIVE MAP: Flood-hit mid-Cornwall loses out on protection spending
CONSTRUCTION on seven major West Country flood defence schemes will begin this year – but dozens of projects in Cornwall have been shelved for at least five years.
Over the past few years homes in areas such as Mevagissey, Pentewan, Looe, Lostwithiel, Polperro and Millbrook have been among the hardest hit by flooding.
But schemes outlined for some of these areas will not get new defence systems installed.
The Government confirmed last week that it has given approval for £26 million of flood protection in Exeter, seen as the most important project in the West Country, with work beginning in mid-2014.
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Meanwhile, flood resistance in Redruth, Barnstaple and five other locations in the region is to be shored up this year, protecting 3,700 homes, ministers said, while announcing £294 million would be spent on defences nationally this year. The Environment Agency has indicated a further 42 flood schemes across Devon and Cornwall will get cash from this year and for five years. Some £25 million will be spent in the South West in total this year. However, 63 proposed schemes will "not proceed" until after 2018 – defences totalling £50 million and protecting 2,500 homes.
See an interactive map of where flood defence money is being spent:
Cornwall councillor for Looe East, Armand Toms said that the town should be looking forward to try to tackle the issue of flooding regardless of government funding.
He said: "We shouldn't look at this as though we've missed a chance of funding. It's about taking the opportunities that are there if we have got a community that will work together."
Mr Toms said that a meeting is due to take place next week between local organisations and an officer from the Environment Agency to see what can be done to protect the town in future.
Mr Toms said: "We want all of the town's organisations to work together to come up with some sort of plan in Looe. The next part of it will be getting local people to come together to formulate a flood defence plan.
"There's a lot we can do as a town. Other things we need to do in conjunction with the Environment Agency and we will try to progress from there."
Mr Toms said he has already written to Cornwall Council to see what financial support is available.
"But it needs to have some kind of local backing as well as Cornwall Council or individuals themselves," he said. "We need to get everybody singing off the same hymn sheet."
After the initial meeting has taken place Mr Toms hopes the local community will get involved and help to identify ways of helping to protect homes and businesses.
Mr Toms said: "The next stage is opening it up to the public to formulate a flood plan."
"We all need to work together," he added.
Flood victims in Mevagissey said they were not shocked that government money for local schemes was being put on the backburner.
"It's predictable," said the fishing port's flood group chairman, Barry Wilton. "To be truthful, I don't think the community was banking on any of the funding either.
"The Government hasn't got any money and I think the funds it does have are being spent where it's needed more. We will just carry on as normal. We have flood defences in place but I think there's a lot of work to be done up-river. That will be done as and when."
A Defra spokesperson said the schemes postponed until 2018 are either still in the developmental stage or do not yet deliver value for money, but may be able to proceed from next year if costs can be reduced.