QUESTIONS were raised about the effectiveness of multi-million pound flood defences after the virus testing tent’s disappearance from Forge Island.
The centre — operated by the Department for Health and Social Care — was taken down on January 19 as Storm Christoph arrived.
Work on flood defences started in summer 2019 on Forge Island in preparation for the cinema and leisure development.
The additions include a 12ft wall on the western boundary and floodgates at the north and south ends of the key regeneration site.
A resident said: “It’s baffling that all this money could be spent, then they confidently place a coronavirus test centre there but as soon as there’s a chance of flooding, it’s taken down.
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“After we’ve had the noise of the flood defences being constructed for over 18 months, you might expect a bit more resilience at the site in the face of a couple of days’ rain.”
Planning papers from 2018 said the cinema, hotel and eateries would be “developed on a podium and lifted out of the flood plain.”
Rotherham Council did not respond to the Advertiser’s questions about the current flood risk to Forge Island.
The DHSC’s testing site had been expected to be out of action for a week but there has been no sign of the tent’s return.
Rotherham public health director Ben Anderson said: “They responded very rapidly, closing down the site and taking away anything that may have caused additional flood risk in terms of getting washed away and caught up further downstream.
“The site was operating at about 25 per cent capacity, with lockdown suppressing the number of cases.”
The other sites had spare capacity, he added, with enough at Midland Road to cover the loss of Forge Island.
RMBC chief executive Sharon Kemp said: “There isn’t any challenge to testing capacity.
“There’s a reality to the places that you can actually use, that are assessed by the military planners, because of the scale and size of the operation.
“I think we are fortunate in the borough to have been able to attract, because we have managed to have the physical attributes that have enabled the sites we’ve currently got.”