Westcountry needs aid after shock cost of floods to business
Business leaders have called for financial help after calculating the recent flooding cost the Westcountry economy more than £125 million.
The Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is pressing for emergency funding from the Government following the recent extreme weather.
The LEP made the appeal after flooding closed most rail services and caused significant damage to rail infrastructure throughout Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.
And torrential rain closed three major roads – the M5, the A303 and the A358 – causing further chaos and highlighting the fragility and lack of resilience of the road network.
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Tim Jones, chairman of HotSW, said additional funding was needed to fix flood-related problems, and take proactive flood alleviation measures for places such as Exeter and Taunton.
He said the damage was easily more than £125 million and counting, as rail services remained restricted.
"In a volatile financial climate, the effects of the flooding can have potentially disastrous consequences for the economy," he added.
"As a result, we are urging the Government to provide emergency funding to help repair and rebuild key infrastructure, as quickly as possible to enable business to continue. We are already suffering with a lack of investment in our rail network in this area, and this flooding is a further devastating blow.
"It's essential that transport routes into the area are not just repaired, but also reviewed to ensure they are fit for purpose: connectivity – and reliability - is crucial to build and grow the economy, to access opportunities and compete effectively.
"Incidents of this type expose the insecurity of our transport networks and it is vital we explore ways and work together with central Government to provide greater resilience to the network."
Trish Johnson, South West regional director for the Institution of Civil Engineers, added: "The events over the last few days serve as a stark reminder that the area will continue to face the consequences of severe rainfall until action is taken to ensure we are more flood resilient.
"Flooding often leads to the failure of critical infrastructure networks such as power and transport, further restricting access to basic services when they're needed most.
"Devon, Somerset and Cornwall are the most affected areas and the long-term effect on businesses could damage the area's economy and the UK economy as a whole."