County presses ahead with work to lessen flood risks

This story was published 31 May 2019

As the Environment Agency (EA) launches a consultation on its draft flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England, the County Council is pressing ahead in its commitment to mitigate flood risks.

surface water flooding in Old Malton

The EA’s draft strategy sets out a vision for “a nation ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change – today, tomorrow and to the year 2100”. Consultation began this month (May) and runs until 4 July.

The County Council’s continuing work to deliver its surface water flood risk programme will feed into the EA’s vision. Flood risks in North Yorkshire are dispersed across rural communities, so mitigating those risks requires bespoke and often expensive solutions.

North Yorkshire County Council is therefore undertaking feasibility works, initially in its highest priority locations, which have historically faced repeated flood incidents, have seen significant internal property flooding and disruption to critical infrastructure. The highest priority locations where studies are presently being undertaken to identify solutions, are Scarborough town, Malton, Norton and Old Malton, Rye villages and Great Ayton. County Council officers have also been supporting work by the EA in South Craven and Tadcaster.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “The impact in these locations is well-known, with floods in recent years. It is good to see studies progressing. Often flood issues have inter-related causes and it requires close partnership working to deliver solutions. It is good to see that we are working closely across risk management authorities and that potential financial contributions are being identified by adopting this cooperative approach.”

The progress made to date in Malton, Norton and Old Malton and Great Ayton has only been possible because of these close working relationships. In Malton, Norton and Old Malton, a project manager has been recruited to advance the work over the next year. This post is part-funded by the County Council and Ryedale District Council and will help to deliver improvements to the pumping arrangements, property resilience and drainage improvements. £1.2m has been committed by the County Council, District Council, EA and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership for this work, which is being led by the County Council.

In addition, a long-term solution to deliver swift pumping operations has been identified, with contractors to be jointly funded by the District and County Council. This work was previously undertaken by District, County Council and other partners, which has meant officers being diverted from their usual work and has meant that the levels of staff available has not been guaranteed.

Leader of Ryedale District Council Councillor Keane Duncan said: “Ryedale District Council is committed to tackling flooding issues in Malton, Norton and elsewhere in the district – and we’ve put our money where our mouth is. By working with the County Council, we’ve been able to make real progress already. Our pumping response is swifter and more targeted. Last year, for example, an early response prevented flooding around County Bridge. Now, the task is to secure the funding we need for longer term solutions in order to minimise the risk of flooding.”

Great Ayton experienced significant flooding in 2012, 2013 and 2016 from ground water, surface water, sewer flooding and the main river. The flooding affected homes, businesses, infrastructure, sewers and roads.

The County Council, Northumbrian Water and the EA are part of the Northumbria Integrated Drainage Partnership (NIDP), which has developed a study programme to investigate flood risk from all flooding sources in integrated studies. A £150,000 NIDP study has started to examine the nature of the flood risk in Great Ayton and identify opportunities to address the risk. These studies are funded with contributions from Northumbrian Water, the County Council, the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee Local Levy Fund and from national Flood and Coastal Grant in Aid funding secured via the Environment Agency. The results are expected in November, at which point more detailed planning into identifying the scheme details, cost and funding will be developed. The work forms part of the Environment Agency’s national flood strategy.

Richard Robinson of the Northumbria Integrated Drainage Partnership said: “These NIDP studies are a great example of how organisations with an interest in flood risk are joining forces to demonstrate collaborative working, and identifying solutions to risk from all sources. The work will lead to the development of new schemes which can identify and address flood risk, and by working together we can understand issues relating to all partners with a hope of delivering a more integrated and efficient solution.”

Cllr Mackenzie added: “With flood risk investigations undertaken in more than 170 locations across the county since we became lead local flood authority, it is imperative to direct work at the places with most need and the studies being undertaken are demonstrating that this approach can achieve benefits targeted at our most at-risk communities.

“Our programme will continue and will aspire to address issues elsewhere. I look forward to seeing the results over the next few years.”

Find out about taking part in the Environment Agency’s draft flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England consultation.