Storms Ciara and Dennis inquiry finds North Yorkshire communities 'need to become more resilient to protect themselves from floods'

An official inquiry into Storms Ciara and Dennis last winter has concluded that has become critical for communities play an active role in helping themselves to be resilient to the increasing risk of flooding.
Damage in Hawes in the aftermath of Storm CiaraDamage in Hawes in the aftermath of Storm Ciara
Damage in Hawes in the aftermath of Storm Ciara

A North Yorkshire County Council inquiry into the devastating deluges across the county following Storms Ciara and Dennis in February has found 'community readiness' is vital as climate change projections indicate that the number of short, high intensity storms will increase.

The report states all risk management authorities should work with communities to encourage and promote improved property-level resilience.

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The report, which is due to be considered by leading members of the authority later this week, states that February 2020 was the wettest since the Met Office records began in 1891, and the Pennine-fed catchments of the rivers Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder and Don received between 320 per cent and 375 per cent of their monthly average rainfall.

The inundation resulted in flooding of properties in the Settle, Gargrave and Skipton areas, as well as Pateley Bridge, Masham and Boroughbridge. In all, almost 100 properties across the county were internally flooded.

The report states numerous flood warnings were issued and re-issued throughout February and into March, but nothing could have prepared authorities for the sheer volume of water that flowed through the catchments, and in particular, the volume of water that reached the Lower Aire.

The report states: "The event therefore exceeded all modelled scenarios and was not something that could be effectively prepared for."

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However, with a view to improving readiness, resilience and recovery of communities throughout North Yorkshire, the report has made a series of recommendations.

The inquiry has urged the authority to take every opportunity "to ensure that regular maintenance of existing infrastructure is undertaken to ensure that drainage systems are functioning to their full capacity", particularly in Masham.

It states: "Given the event has highlighted the risk in the locations and climate change predictions indicating that these type of storm events will become more frequent; it is critical that communities also play an active role in helping themselves to be resilient to the increasingly prevalent risk of flooding."

The report also calls on the flood and highways authorities to work with the community of Gildersleets in the Yorkshire Dales to review the feasibility of any flood alleviation or improved resilience scheme.

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Among the other recommendations are for risk management authorities to continue responsive service and the monitoring of Swinney Beck in Masham and for the Environment Agency to undertake a review and further assessment of the flows and capacity of the River Aire and its washlands.

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