LESS than half the cash required to fund ‘critical’ flood prevention schemes to protect worst-hit Barnsley residents from repeat occurrences has been found - plunging identified projects along several waterways into doubt.

Thirteen projects have been identified following three serious floods in as many years which have impacted residents whose homes neighbour the Dearne, Dove and Don rivers.

Eight Barnsley Council-led initiatives and five from the Environment Agency have been earmarked, according to a South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) report - but only if estimated costs of £23.4m are met.

The Chronicle can reveal just £10.3m has been found so far, made up of £6.3m from the government and £4m from ‘partner’ funding streams.

Five of the 13 have been given priority status - including ‘shovel-ready’ schemes on worst-hit Lang Avenue in Lundwood, a Barnsley-wide culvert condition programme and ongoing spillway repair work at Worsbrough Reservoir.

Debris clearance on the Dearne at Church Street in Darton will follow, as will work on the Don at Penistone, making up the five prioritised schemes.

However, others - earmarked to be completed by 2027 including a Smithies flood plain, a culvert replacement at Bulling Dyke and bank strengthening in Wombwell - could be put on the back-burner due to ‘insufficient public and private funding’.

A report to South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard - which predominantly discusses the impact of Storm Babet - warned urgent cash is required to protect residents and businesses.

“In Barnsley, it is understood that 31 properties suffered some extent of flooding at Lang Avenue, Lundwood, and at a gypsy and traveller site at Wombwell which was also flooded,” it said.

“Although there was a rapid response from public bodies to supporting communities and implementing the flood reduction and clear-up in the aftermath, it is considered that communities were not given sufficient early warning prior to their properties being flooded.

“A review of experiences will be undertaken but improving the monitoring of evolving flood levels and better communicating these to local communities will be part of the review.

“We are actively working with a range of partners to roll-out a project across South Yorkshire to provide more detailed real-time information on river and watercourse levels in times of flooding.

“However, to be fully effective, it will be critical that significant further funding is committed now to accelerate the delivery of enhanced flood defences and other mitigation measures, or communities will continue to be adversely affected by flooding.

“Flooding disrupts communities, businesses, transport infrastructure, utilities and public services.

“However, investment in water management and flood defences can reduce the risks of flooding and increase the resilience of communities during flood events.

“Since the first devastating flooding in November 2019 we have worked closely with councils, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and others to respond to flood risk.

“However, recent events demonstrate that there is more we must do - other partners have contributed to delivering the flood defence and mitigation schemes but a funding gap to deliver the full programme remains.

“There is a risk that insufficient public and private funding and investment may be available to deliver the programme of priority capital flood alleviation schemes in full, which will impact those communities where schemes cannot be progressed to completion.

“Significant further funding support from the government will ensure the delivery and completion of a number of critical schemes can be accelerated to prevent the devastation that communities have recently experienced.”

Storms Ciara, Denis and most recently Babet have all impacted the Barnsley, which resulted in a month’s worth deluge of rain falling in a day on each occasion, swelling rivers to the point where each of the town’s three burst their banks and caused havoc.

Following the recent floods, Mr Coppard wrote to the Secretary of State with an invite to visit South Yorkshire to see the work underway, as well as visiting places where the current defences are not sufficient and more resilient long-term solutions need to be put in place.

He said climate change meant flooding worries were not going to go away and admitted there was still plenty of work to be done.

“We need to do more to prevent flooding in the first place and also deviating the consequences when it does happen,” he added.

“One of my aims is to make the case for more funding for our part of the world because we need to get it right when it comes to flood alleviation.

“It can’t be right that people have sleepless nights, worrying about whether their homes are going to get flooded.”