South Yorkshire Flood Recovery – Information Page

Closes 31 Dec 2022

Opened 30 Oct 2020


Welcome to the South Yorkshire flood recovery Information Page.

We have created this page to provide easy access to information about our work in response to the flooding in South Yorkshire in November 2019. We will update this page as we progress individual projects as part of our recovery and repair work programme, so please keep checking regularly for new information.

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The Environment Agency has remained operational throughout the restrictions we all face during the Coronavirus emergency and we have adapted how we work in line with government guidance to ensure we can continue to focus on our critical activities.
As an organisation we are doing everything we can to support our community, the government and the NHS, abiding by the measures set out by the government during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our priority in these difficult times is the health, safety and wellbeing of residents, our staff and contractors. As a result of this we have postponed all face to face public meetings, following government guidance, until it is safe to attend them again.
We will continue to review the situation in light of further advice from the government. Our latest position is available at:
Please accept our assurance that we are doing all we can to ensure work continues as much as is feasible, and that delays caused by the knock-on effects of this pandemic are kept to an absolute minimum.
During this time, if you have any questions relating to our flood recovery work in South Yorkshire you can contact the team at

The South Yorkshire floods in November 2019

The flooding in South Yorkshire in November 2019 followed two months where rainfall was more than twice the monthly average. Persistent heavy rain on 7th and 8th November caused river levels to rise rapidly. In just 48 hours 150% of the average November monthly rainfall fell over the middle reaches of the River Don resulting in widespread impacts across South Yorkshire. Overall, river levels equaled or exceeded the previous record event of June 2007.

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According to the Met Office, autumn 2019 was one of the wettest on record for the whole of England. Autumn rainfall records were broken for South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and Lincolnshire, with the previous records set in 2000. More locally, the five months preceding November 2019 were the wettest for the Don catchment since 1891.

The November flooding followed a period of sustained rainfall in late September and throughout October, which elevated river levels and reduced available water storage in the catchment. The last ten days of September saw a succession of storm fronts with prolonged periods of rainfall and, as a result, the Don catchment received more than double the monthly Long Term Average (LTA) rainfall. During October a series of weather depressions that crossed the country led to sustained rainfall over South and West Yorkshire for the first two to three weeks, culminating in over 24 hours of near constant rainfall on 25th to 26th October. This significant rainfall accumulation affected the Don catchment in particular, which received 64% of the monthly LTA rainfall over just those two days.

As a result many river flows were already high for the time of year, soils were saturated, and reservoirs in the catchment above Sheffield were full.

During November, Yorkshire saw record levels of rainfall with a number of river catchments receiving far more than their average rainfall for the month. The highest was South Yorkshire which had its wettest November on record with more than two and a half times (257%) of average rainfall (185 mm).

The south westerly flow of a largely static frontal weather system on 7th November caused prolonged and substantial rainfall, which started during the early hours. Over 48 hours on 7th and 8th November around 150% of the average November total rainfall fell over the middle section of the Don and around Rotherham.

7th November 2019:   Widespread average rainfall of between 70-85mm fell in 24 hours across areas of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. As a result, water levels on the Rivers Don, Rother, Dearne and associated tributaries rose rapidly as rain ran off already saturated ground in the catchment areas. River levels along the Don in Sheffield and Rotherham peaked during the night and then started to fall. However the risk of flooding then increased in Doncaster and surrounding areas as the flood peak moved downstream.

8th November:   The river level in Doncaster peaked at 6.308m stage and then remained high for several days, which saw devastating impacts on our communities across South Yorkshire.

9th November:    By midday the Environment Agency had issued seven severe flood warnings, covering Kirk Bramwith, South Bramwith, Barmby Dun, Bentley, Kirk Sandall, Willow Bridge caravan site and Fishlake.

As a result of the heavy rainfall, river levels peaked at record or near record levels across the catchments of the Rivers Rother, Dearne and Don.

Between 7th and 14th November (the day when the River Don dropped back to a more normal level) around 100 million cubic metres of water passed through our river monitoring stations in South Yorkshire. This is equivalent to a six metre depth of water over an area the size of Lake Windermere.

Flooding around Fishlake
Flooding around Fishlake

This extreme rainfall led to one of the largest flood events in the last 50 years of records in the Don catchment, and had a devastating impact on communities along the River Don. Around 1600 properties were affected by the flooding, with the majority in Doncaster (in Bentley and Fishlake). 1200 homes were evacuated and the flooding affected key road and rail infrastructure.

Despite the event being similar in scale to the flooding in 2007, the damage was less widespread and 7000 properties were protected by flood defences.

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Government investment in South Yorkshire of over £59m since 2007 will provide better protection for over 9500 properties. 

Key investments include:

  • Sheffield Lower Don Valley: £21m of which £19m funded by central government reducing risk to 34 homes, but predominantly protecting 295 key businesses and regionally significant infrastructure.
  • Sheffield Upper Don Valley: £37m of which £23m funded by central government reducing flood risk to 237 homes and 441 businesses. The first phase of the scheme has just commenced and completion will be in the next investment period.
  • Bentley Ings Pumping Station: a £14m project to upgrade the pumping station to significantly increase pump capacity, reliability and improved access in times of a flood. 1,669 properties and 698 businesses will be better protected from flooding for a further 50 years as a result of the project. The scheme will be completed later this year.

What happened and impacts of the November 2019 floods
What happened and impacts of the November 2019 floods

What have we done in response to the flooding?

Since the November 2019 flooding the Environment Agency (EA) has inspected over 3000 flood defences along the the Rivers Don, Rother and Dearne. The EA and local authority partners have been repairing damaged assets and improving flood defences to better protect communities this winter. The EA Recovery programme in South Yorkshire comprises around 100 projects worth £12m.

The work we have achieved since the floods
The work we have achieved since the floods

Assets and Recovery

Since November 2019 the EA has worked on a £12m programme of improvements to flood defences and urgent repairs to better protect communities and businesses across South Yorkshire.

We have also put measures in place to make our flood defence assets ‘winter ready’ with either:

  • a permanent repair completed;
  • a temporary repair with permanent work to be completed by the end of March 2021; or
  • robust contingency measures in place.

These projects will improve the condition and performance of critical flood defence assets for communities including Fishlake and Bentley in Doncaster. 

You can watch a time-lapse video of our repair work to a flood defence embankment which was recently completed at Mile Thorn in Doncaster.

Progress on major improvements to flood defences

Despite the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, progress has been maintained on construction of vital flood defence projects across South Yorkshire. The £14m scheme to refurbish Bentley Ings Pumping Station will be completed later this year and a £3m project to replace the Sheaf screen in Sheffield is underway and expected to be complete by March 2021. These will better protect 1700 homes and 700 businesses. 

Community engagement

Multi-agency community drop-ins were held immediately after the floods in Rotherham and Doncaster for residents to share their experiences, ask questions and seek advice.  

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, information sharing and consultation has continued with elected members, Flood Wardens and communities via newsletters and virtual meetings. Data has been shared and explained to help communities understand what happened during the floods.


Section 19 flood investigation reports into the flooding are being published by Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham Councils. Barnsley Council are currently finalising their report.

You can find links to the published Section 19 flood investigation reports at the bottom of this webpage.

What happens next?

Over the coming months, you will see our staff and contractors working to carry out investigations, and making essential repairs which will enable us to remove temporary defences.

Our staff and contractors will be following advice provided by Public Health England. Our work will be carried out while maintaining social distancing.

Our key priorities are to protect the health, safety and well-being of our own staff, the public and the businesses and partners we work with. If social distancing cannot be maintained, and work cannot be done safely, it will stop.

We therefore ask that you do not approach our staff or contractors, and direct any queries to your local Partnership and Strategic Overview Team on:

We will be publishing details on our progress with the repairs, and flood protection schemes in South Yorkshire, as they become available. Please check back regularly for updates on projects and work programmes in the different areas:

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We have just passed the first anniversary of the 2019 flood in Fishlake, and our thoughts are with those who were impacted by the devastation the flood waters caused. We would like to use this opportunity to outline our continued commitment and efforts to ensure your community is prepared for winter.
You will have seen the work to repair and improve defences is now starting on the ground. Throughout the remainder of this year, the Environment Agency’s programme of permanent repairs will continue and are due to be completed in March 2021.
Whilst this work is being delivered, you will be able to see temporary defences are in place at various locations around the area. These ensure the current standard of protection against flooding is in place whilst construction work is underway. For other locations, we have a contingency plan designed to ensure we are able to act quickly and put temporary measures in place when our ongoing monitoring of river, washland and rainfall levels indicate it is necessary for us to do so.

As well as better protecting the village and to reduce the likelihood of any floodwater reaching properties this winter, we also have plans in place should we have a repeat winter of record rainfall. What we have put in place is as follows:

  • Arrangements for storage of sandbags in the village, with further supplies at closer locations than were available last winter
  • A large amount of incident response equipment stored close to your area, such as pumps and barriers, ready to be used as and when required
  • Training and support for an expanded village flood group, ensuring strong links to the Environment Agency, Doncaster Council and other organisations so that you get timely information and help to implement the village flood plan
  • Staff on standby in both the Environment Agency and Doncaster Council to provide rapid support as necessary

Closure of footpaths and limited 'Public Rights of Way' access

To allow us to carry out essential repair and maintenance work in and around Fishlake, it will be necessary for us to close some footpaths and limit access to ‘Public Rights of Way’ (PRoW). Where we have had to close PRoW there will be alternative diversion routes in place. The map below shows locations and dates PRoW will be closed to the public to allow us to work in those areas. The diversion routes will be well signposted.

Map of temporarily closed footpaths and limited access to ‘Public Right of Way’
Map of temporarily closed footpaths and limited access to ‘Public Rights of Way’

Telemetry – flood monitoring at Fishlake

Flood telemetry systems are designed to remotely monitor sources of flood risk and provide information when water levels change, such as a warning when water levels begin to rise above a certain point.

In response to the community’s request and the Environment Agency’s ambition to support Fishlake, we have been investigating the proposal of new temporary telemetry in the Fishlake washlands. 

The community have asked for a telemetry site in Woodhouse Ings washland adjacent to the barrier bank to help them prepare more proactively for any future flood events.

The temporary telemetry will help us better understand the washland level in relation to the river level. This information will help us to know when we can drain the washlands naturally by gravity or when we need to bring in temporary pumping.

Telemetry specialists have agreed on the best location for the telemetry in the washlands to better understand the water levels over the winter and to ensure our readiness to take action if necessary.

The telemetry would be installed for a period of up to 12 months. It is, however, important to note that a temporary site is not guaranteed to be automatically ‘upgraded’ to a permanent site.

On Monday 2nd November, technical representatives from the EA met with representatives of the Parish Council, Flood Action Group and Flood Wardens to explore the feasibility of a site installation at the location that has been suggested. This visit has confirmed that the site is suitable and we have installed the temporary telemetry system on 3rd December.

Temporary telemetry system near Fishlake, DoncasterTemporary telemetry system near Fishlake, Doncaster

We will be publishing details on the progress of each project within the Doncaster work programme here. Please check back regularly for updates.
We will also issue regular newsletters to affected communities. The Fishlake community newsletter February 2021 highlights our recent progress and sets out what our next steps are.

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Following the November floods, the Environment Agency’s Asset Performance Team have identified repair work required on some of our assets in Rotherham. These include flood embankment repairs as a result of damage caused by flood water at Meadowgate, Canklow, Killamarsh and Catcliffe.

General repairs are needed to maintain the infrastructure and equipment at Meadowgate. Further minor repairs to the reservoir outfall at Killamarsh and the flood defences at Catcliffe are also programmed. All the required repair work is planned to be completed by 31st of March 2021.

We will be publishing details on the progress of each project within the Rotherham work programme here. Please check back regularly for updates.



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The Environment Agency carried out work in the river channel in Sheffield throughout September to help reduce the risk of flooding in the city. This work took place in the River Loxley at Malinbridge and Hillsborough, and on the River Don at Norfolk Bridge to reduce constraints to the flow of the river, thereby reducing flood risk.
The work included reducing the height of gravel, brick and stone deposits. Overhanging vegetation and trees around the bridges have been removed as the vegetation, or debris caught in the vegetation, can restrict the water flow and increase flood risk.

Back in 2009 we undertook some essential maintenance work to reduce future flood risk at Malinbridge in Hillsborough. This work included the clearance of potential blockages within the riverbed, including the removal of vegetation and some trees.

Following feedback from the local community and local interest groups, we have successfully done further work to improve the area. Our aim is to minimise flood risk to local residents and businesses, while maintaining an attractive environment and habitat for local wildlife.

You can see the changes to the river habitat in the photos below - from when we started our flood risk management work in 2009 to what the area looks like in 2020.

Area around Malinbridge, Hillsborough following work in 2009
Area around Malinbridge, Hillsborough following work in 2009

Malinbridge, Hillsborough following work in 2020
Malinbridge, Hillsborough following work in 2020

You can find further information in the attached September 2020 newsletter “Keeping you informed – Flood Risk Maintenance Work” at the bottom of this webpage.

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We will be publishing details on the progress of each project within the Barnsley work programme here. Please check back regularly for updates.

What you can do to manage flood risk and where to find information

While it is impossible to completely flood-proof a property, there are a lot of things you can do to prepare and reduce the damage flooding can cause. Here are some useful resources to help prepare yourself, your family and home - before, during and after a flood incident.

Before a flood:

  • You can check your risk of flooding from rivers, surface water and reservoirs online at:;
  • If your property is at risk, sign up to receive warnings through the free Flood Warning Service. To register call Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or visit:;
  • You can receive a warning message as a phone call to your house, place of work or mobile, as well as an option to receive a text message or e-mail.

Flood warning symbols

By registering to the Flood Warning Service you will receive an advanced warning of potential flooding in your area. This gives you time to stay safe, take action and prepare yourself and your property for flooding. Even if your property isn’t at direct risk, your access or your workplace might be.

During a flood:

  • Visit What to do in Flood to understand the warnings and actions to take. Further resource can be found at National Flood Forum and Know Your Flood Risk;
  • Understand what the different Category 1 emergency responders roles are so you know where to direct your questions or concerns;
  • Stay safe and listen the Emergency Responders.

After a flood:

  • Being flooded is a horrific and incredibly emotional experience. How to recover after a flood offers some basic tips;
  • Your Local Authority webpages and contacts will be a source of practical information. Also, organisations such as the National Flood Forum and Know Your Flood Risk can offer advice on insurance, cleaning and property resilience measures;
  • Look after your own wellbeing and seek emotional support either via charities such as the Red Cross or Samaritans, or there maybe local initiatives you can access. Generally these are organised via your Local Authority;
  • If it’s possible record and collect any evidence and data you can about the flooding and its impact. There are reviews undertaken after every incident and local information is vital in understanding the impact and where changes need to be made. This can be shared via the Environment Agency and/or Local Authority.


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