A LONG-AWAITED investment in a vital flood defence scheme to protect homes in Radcliffe and Redvales has finally been granted.

The Government has pledged £7 million to enable the robust defences to be installed as part of a £46 million scheme that has been more than two years in the making.

It follows ongoing calls from MPs and council leaders from Bury and Rochdale, who lobbied Thérèse Coffey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, in March this year over the funding shortfall.

To enable the scheme to move forward, £7 million from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be added to £2 million previously pledged by Bury Council and £1 million from the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), with the remaining balance coming from the Environment Agency (EA).

The Government department announced the funding today.

Bury Council leader, Rishi Shori, said: "I am delighted by this news. Finally, after many months of lobbying the Government, we are at last being promised the money we need to take our flood defence plans forward to protect our residents from the sort of devastation that they suffered nearly three years ago."

More than 670 homes in Radcliffe and Redvales were flooded when the River Irwell burst its banks following unprecedented rainfall on Boxing Day 2015.

Cllr Shori said: "While the physical damage caused by Storm Eva may no longer be visible, the emotional and physical scars still remain for those people affected. It is vitally important that a flood protection scheme is put in place as soon as possible, in order to give them peace of mind.

"It should never have taken this long to get what our residents deserve. It is now imperative that no more time is wasted and work gets under way on bringing these essential defences to Radcliffe and Redvales.

"I would also like to put on record my thanks for the work of the Radcliffe and Redvales Flood Action Group for their help and support in moving this agenda forward."

The funding will enable the detailed design of the scheme to begin next month, with the view for work to begin in March 2019.

Construction is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2021.

Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, said: "This is incredible news. A huge amount of work has been done and we now have a deliverable scheme to protect hundreds of properties in Radcliffe.

“We should not forget the devastating impact that the floods have had and the human cost of not acting. I'm hoping that today's news will offer peace of mind to those that were affected."

James Frith, MP for Bury North, said: "I welcome that the Government has finally committed the funding needed for flood defences in Bury, more than two years after the floods and following months of intense lobbying.

"This is good news for the people of Radcliffe and Redvales. The funding needs to come down quickly so the scheme can be delivered as soon as possible and the people of Bury can be assured that they won’t be turned out of their homes again."

Cllr Rhyse Cathcart said: "As someone who has been personally affected by the floods this is the most amazing news. Myself and my family will sleep a lot more soundly this evening."

The EA has held various meetings and public consultations as the scheme has been developed.

Cllr Alan Quinn, cabinet member for the environment, said these continued discussions are 'vital'.

He said: “It has taken many months for residents to recover from the impact of the flooding.

"Communication and engagement with local people is vital. With the EA, we will continue to involve residents closely in the planning and design process of the defences."

The preferred scheme comprises a flood balancing pond at Swan Lodge and cutting off flow routes under the Metrolink embankment at Lower Hinds, as well as raised defences along the river's edge between Warth Mill and Close Park, protecting about 870 properties.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “This funding is fantastic news for Radcliffe and Redvales and ensures that our plans for flood defences within the area, as discussed with the local community, can progress to the next stage.

"Securing this funding is an important step to ensure our local flood resilience is both in place and improved.

"The future flood scheme will increase the level of protection to 870 properties while creating new habitat for local wildlife populations and bringing more green spaces to the community."

The Radcliffe and Redvales defence is one of 13 flood schemes across the country to benefit from £40 million funding from Government.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: "This extra funding for flood defences will unlock schemes that will better protect thousands of homes and businesses against flooding, supporting regeneration in important towns and villages in the north and coastal communities.

“It will boost our resilience as a nation and help our communities to grow and prosper.”