Innovative £5.8m project to reduce flooding in North Yorkshire could see new farming techniques introduced

An innovative project to reduce the risk of flooding in York and North Yorkshire is set to be launched.

It will see natural flood risk management measures – which could include water storage areas and the introduction of different farming techniques – put in place upstream of areas that experience flooding.

City of York Council says the flood walls have been raised in recent years but that solutions upstream are needed because the flood defences cannot continue to be increased in height without a negative impact on the city.

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Project leaders will work with landowners and residents at risk of flooding across the River Swale, Ure and Nidd and the City of York.

Floods near Naburn Lock in York following heavy rain during Storm Christoph in January 2021

The plans are under development and the council secured £5.8 million from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to complete the project.

The council’s environment team says: “This is an ambitious project that has not previously been carried out on this scale.

“The project seeks to work with landowners and those at flood risk across the River Swale, Ure and Nidd catchments upstream of the City of York and form links to develop an understanding and agreement of how changes to upstream land management can benefit at-risk communities downstream.”

The project will take six years to complete and is currently at an early stage, with a business case under development and wide consultation planned before any work gets underway.

A report outlining the plans says: “A key design consideration for the schemes has been the need to ensure the height and extent of the flood banks and walls can manage future flood events without impacting negatively on our riverside communities, we understand that we cannot continue to raise these features without a serious negative impact on our city.

“To ensure this is not the case the schemes include a design element to manage climate change impacts up to the projected 2039 levels.

“To ensure the defences continue to provide an effective level of protection after this time the Environment Agency and all key partners have identified that catchment scale solutions are needed to support the direct flood protection in the city.”

Senior councillors will be asked to agree to the project moving ahead at a meeting on Tuesday (Jul 20).

Residents, businesses and landowners will be invited to have their say on the initial proposals late next year, 2022.