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Pickering flood work progresses


12:01am 9th November 2011

Members of a partnership project which is overseeing work to reduce the risk of flooding in Pickering have been looking at further work to help the town.

The Slowing the Flow Partnership Project Board met last week to review progress and consider options for further investment in measures to reduce flood risk in Pickering.  The objective is to achieve a one in 25 year standard of protection for the town through a combination of bunded storage and land management measures.

Following the decision this summer when plans for a large flood storage bund had to be shelved because of increased costs, the Partnership Board agreed at last week’s meeting to commission more detailed work on exploring alternative options.  Specifically:

  • Some £85,000 will be made available to Ryedale District Council to help homeowners and businesses in Pickering make their properties more resilient to flooding. This funding comes through the  Environment Agency, Defra  and the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee’s Local Levy budget;
  • Further work to be carried out by the Forestry Commission and the National Park designed to slow the flow, including additional tree planting, creation of more large woody debris dams in stream channels, extending the blocking of moorland drains and a possible extension of moorland no-burn strips;
  • More detailed investigation of smaller flood storage bunds, which would not need to comply with the Reservoirs Act, in the lower part of the catchment, together with channel improvement work aimed at making better use of the natural flood plain at times of high flow.  Of the original eight possible locations considered by the Environment Agency, four have been selected for further assessment. This work is to be funded by an additional grant from Defra

Board chairman Jeremy Walker said:

“The initial project has already put in place a wide range of new measures which will act to slow down the flow of flood water into Pickering. This is helpful, and will also increase flood warning times.  However we are very conscious that more is needed in order to raise the level of flood protection for the town.

“So we are determined to explore any option which will give Pickering a flood scheme that will make a real difference.  The major contribution to reducing risk has to come from creating flood storage areas and work is underway to try and design an effective scheme at an affordable cost”.

“We do need to be realistic though. There are many challenges ahead – financial, environmental and planning.  We also need to work closely with local landowners and tenant farmers.  However our board brings together people with a wide range of expertise who are all committed to improving flood protection for Pickering.”

The Slowing the Flow Project has a number of  key partners including the Forestry Commission, Forest Research, Environment Agency, North York Moors National Park, Natural England, Ryedale District Council, Pickering Town Council, Sinnington Parish Council, North Yorkshire County Council and North York Moors Railway amongst others.

The overall project aim is to demonstrate how the integration of different land management practices can help to reduce flood risk, as well as provide wider benefits to local communities. A key measure is the provision of low-level flood storage bunds along the Pickering Beck but recent plans for a larger bund were put on hold after it became clear that the requirements of the Reservoirs Act 1975 combined with the complex nature of the site, meant that construction costs would need to increase significantly to ensure public safety.

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