Stalled anti-flood scheme under review

THE future of a stalled flood defence scheme in North Yorkshire could be clearer by the end of the month, a Minister has said.

Floods Minister Richard Benyon has pledged to work with officials and people in Pickering to resolve the future of the scheme, which was halted after costs almost tripled to £3.2m.

The town, one of North Yorkshire’s worst flooding black spots, has endured major floods since the 1930s.

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Yesterday Mr Benyon was responding to questions from Thirsk and Malton Tory MP Anne McIntosh who is pressing for the project to protect 60 properties by building earth embankments to hold back the water to be revived. The costs soared because strict regulations apply under the Reservoirs Act 1975 as well as the complex nature of the site.

Mr Benyon said: “The Environment Agency and local partners are working hard to reassess the designs and to drive down costs. Other options that were originally put forward are also being discussed.

“Once consideration is complete – I expect that to be at the end of July – the agency is eager to continue working with local partners to explore what can be done while maintaining public safety.”

Miss McIntosh is pushing for answers before Parliament rises for the summer recess in two weeks’ time.

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Mr Benyon added: “I will work with officials and local people in her constituency to ensure that we achieve the result that they all want, which is a lifting of the burden of the threat of flooding from their lives.”

Meanwhile, York Council will today confirm plans to press ahead with a flood defence scheme in part of the city after members approved £1.4m funding to the Environment Agency.

Work could start next year on upgrades to the Leeman Road defences, thrown into doubt when the Government cut capital spending on flood defences by 27 per cent. Councillors also approved a further £356,000 to carry out a feasibility study for the Clementhorpe area.