MORE than £2m has been spent on protecting Barnsley from flooding in the last decade and ‘difficult challenges are ahead’ due to it being impossible to fully prevent future cases, the council has warned.

Since widespread flooding in 2007 - which affected more than 350 properties - Barnsley Council has invested about £2.2m above its normal maintenance budget on extra flood defence work.

This, the council claims, has been a ‘major contributing factor’ to reducing the number of flooded properties to approximately 100 last month despite similar river levels recorded, particularly at the depth gauges on the Dearne at Darton and Grange Lane and on the Dove at Worsbrough.

However, the council warned ‘difficult challenges are ahead’ due to it not being possible to prevent flooding entirely but the issue - which will be discussed by councillors on a scrutiny board on Tuesday - remains a high priority due to the most recent incident on November 7.

“There are difficult challenges ahead as it is not possible to do everything, and part of the council’s strategy is to help flood-prone communities to help themselves,” a report said.

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“In practice, the council will not undertake all the work and has worked with communities to understand that resilience and self-reliance can better manage flooding to minimise any impact it may have. In light of recent events, the council will also review procedures for responding to future flooding.

“The council’s strategic approach endeavours to reduce the risk of flooding, while acknowledging that in some cases the risk cannot be totally eliminated.

“We will continue to work with affected communities and local residents to raise awareness of their responsibilities and to help them to help themselves rather than placing their sole reliance on the council.”

Gullies - often brought up by residents due to their tendency to overflow during poor weather - are cleansed on a ten-month cycle by the council’s in-house operations team.

However, there has been ‘a historical lack of cleansing of drainage kerbs’ due to difficulties with access and lack of resources which has led to significant flooding of the highway network over a number of years.

This has now been recognised, the report said, and an additional £1m has been approved for the 2020/21 financial year to carry out cleansing and other associated maintenance works to these features and other assets.

The report added: “In June 2007, Barnsley was affected by heavy and sustained rainfall which continued for a ten-day period leading up to the first flood.

“Many of these neighbourhoods had not experienced flooding before and were poorly prepared for responding to flooding. In total, 352 properties, including commercial properties, flooded.

“The impact in these localities ranged from between 50mm up to one metre of water flowing into properties. In many cases properties were affected by diluted, untreated raw sewage which had contaminated the flood waters, when waste water treatment installations and combined sewers were overwhelmed by the run-off flows.

“The council is also working with developers to design not just flood resistant development but flood resilient development should flooding occur.”

Other areas in line for work, apart from Darton, have been identified as Lundwood, Darfield, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Low Valley and Aldham Bridge.

“As a result of the most recent flooding event, the process has now begun of debriefing the response and initial recovery with a view to identifying organisational learning,” the report said.

“Investigation into the source of flooding in primary affected areas is currently being undertaken and it would be premature at this stage to make presumptions regarding this.

“The management of flood risk in the borough is key to the council being able to realise its aspirations for economic growth. Achievement of those aspirations requires a partnership approach to ensure that development is sustainable and works to reduce flood risk.”