Sheffield City Council Calls for Bold Action on Climate Change

Sheffield City Council has today reacted to the formal publication of two new reports into the causes and effects of climate change.

The 5th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most complete assessment ever undertaken of the planet’s climate, set up by the United Nations. The IPCC does not carry out its own research, but bases its assessment on the published work of scientists across the world. The IPCC report is over 2000 pages in length and cites over 9000 scientific publications. It is the most thorough scientific document produced.

It has concluded that [direct quotes]:

• “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”
• “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.”
• “Human influence on the climate system is clear. It is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010.”
• “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further global warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
• “Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped.”

At the same time, research published by the Met Office in the academic journal ‘Nature Climate Change’ has found that global warming will lead to drier, hotter summers in the UK, which are more prone to both long droughts and short extreme downpours.

In response, Councillor Jack Scott, the Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment said: “These new reports provide strong and compelling scientific evidence that climate change is happening, is caused by human activity and will have a devastating impact if urgent action is not taken to reduce our carbon emissions and invest in mitigation.

“It highlights the need for a global, legally binding treaty to cut carbon emissions at the Paris Conference next year. We also need to decarbonise our energy supply and invest massively in clean renewable energy and create green collar jobs.

“Sheffield people remember the awful floods of 2007 and 2010 – these scientific reports are telling us that problems like those are going to happen more often and be even more severe. They paint a very bleak picture for our future, for our city and our planet, unless we take determined, consistent and bold action to reduce carbon emissions now.

“We’ve established a Green Commission to build agreement of what needs to happen and develop a proper plan to make sure we take action on the greatest threat our society faces. As one of the greenest cities, Sheffield needs to be a national leader in this work. We cannot afford to get this wrong.”

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Sheffield Cabinet Approves Ambitious Flood Plans

Part of my job is to make sure Sheffield’s rivers are clean, that Sheffield is protected from flooding and that our city is ready for emergencies (see here).

 

So it’s really good for Sheffield that plans to protect our city from the risk of serious flooding have received the green light.

A blueprint was drawn up in the wake of the devastating floods of the summer of 2007 – and on other occasions since defences have been stretched to the limit.

The city council has been working closely with the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water to reduce the risk of similar problems in the future.

There’s been work too in communities where the risk of flooding is greatest to put contingency plans into place and support them at times of danger.

Flood wardens have been trained by the Environment Agency to improve communications locally and to help coordinate the strategy.

There has been work to widen and de-silt many of the city’s rivers and the council has been working with Yorkshire Water on the management of peak river flows further upstream.

The end result of all the work is the Flood Risk Management Strategy for Sheffield, published following wide-ranging consultations with local people, organisations and businesses.

The aim of the strategy is to ensure the city targets the main problem areas and that resources are being used to the best effect.

Sheffield is a city of rivers and this is really important for our environment. Because of this we also know there is a risk of flooding.

As the effects of climate change become more apparent, we are likely to see more flooding, so we need to take action.

We want to minimise the impact of flooding on Sheffield people and businesses and also take the opportunity to improve the city’s environment.”

The plan was approved by Sheffield’s Cabinet on Wednesday. You can read a copy of the report.

Multi-million pound flood defence scheme submitted to planners

Plans to improve protection from flooding for businesses in the Lower Don Valley have taken a step forward after planning applications for the project were submitted by Sheffield City Council.

The proposals have been developed by the Council working closely with the Environment Agency, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and representatives from affected businesses in the city.

The plans relate to three specific sites – Savile Street Saw Mill, land close to Sanderson’s Weir and Meadowhall Road. They involve the construction of new flood walls, raising and reinforcement of existing structures, reinforcement of vulnerable bridge parapets and installation of flood gates.

The designs will enhance the local character and environment, and retain and improve the views and access to the river wherever possible.

In total, the project will deliver nearly 40 separate interventions along the 8km stretch of the River Don between Nursery Street in the city centre and the Blackburn Brook near the M1 motorway.

The project will also put in place essential channel clearance and maintenance which will compliment the new defences. This will aim to improve current standards of flood protection, which are estimated to provide as low as 1 in 25-year event standard, to the target of 1 in 100-year event standard.

Cllr Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene at Sheffield City Council, said: “This is an innovative partnership between the Council, the Environment Agency and the private sector. We can achieve a lot by working together like this.

“This will establish a long-term mechanism for managing the River Don as a safe and attractive feature.  Flood defences are clearly required. The project is excellent value for money and it should give businesses much better protection than there is now.”

Sheffield City Council recently approved a total budget of £8.1million for the flood defences project, subject to funds being secured.

Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has already provided £5.5m and an application is being submitted for a further £1.2million from the Environment Agency.

But the success of the project is reliant on the support of businesses in the Lower Don Valley backing the planning application, granting access for construction and importantly voting to contribute to the costs through a Business Improvement District (BID) which would generate £1.4million.

The business contribution will cover part of the building cost and will also ensure the river channel is properly maintained and kept clear over the next five years.

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Sheffield City Council believe a BID is the best way to generate the private sector contributions.  It would see more than 250 affected companies in the Lower Don Valley making a payment calculated on their rateable value over a fixed period of five years.

Under the proposal more than half of businesses in the BID area would pay less than £2,500 over five years towards the flood defences and river management.

A BID has to be approved by a majority vote of businesses balloted on the plans. This is expected to take place in December 2013.

A prospectus and full business plan about the flood defences and the BID will be made available shortly to affected businesses to allow them to make their decision on how to vote.

A series of public events are also planned in the next two months to ensure that voters fully understand the proposed project and the implications of the BID for their business.

BIDs are common in other large cities, but this would be the first for Sheffield, and the first in the country to deliver a construction scheme such as flood defences.

Richard Wright, Executive Director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, added: “The project should help existing businesses get insurance cover and it would give potential investors increased certainty regarding the feasibility and security of development sites.

“It provides the knowledge that a flood defence project for the 8km stretch of river will be delivered to strengthen the viability of this vital economic area for the region.”

The aim is to have a full funding package secured by early 2014 to enable the start on site immediately, with physical completion in mid-2015.

The project comes at a time when the Lower Don Valley has been defined as the core of the Enterprise Zone for the Sheffield City Region aiming to attract further investment and development in modern manufacturing in the area. Flood risk has been identified as a key obstacle to growth.

The Sheffield Lower Don Valley area was severely flooded in 2000 and 2007 causing massive disruption and multi-million pound damages to hundreds of businesses, power, transport and telecommunications infrastructure.

For more information about the Sheffield Lower Don Valley flood protection project visit http://www.scci.org.uk/home/projects/sheffield-lower-don-valley-flood-defence-project