Tadcaster still at risk of severe flooding due to lack of defences

The floods which ravaged a North Yorkshire market town in 2015 could be repeated because of the lack of protection offered by its flood defences, a council report reveals today.

An aerial picture showing the flooding in Tadcaster in 2015.

North Yorkshire County Council said an improved system of flood defences is a priority in Tadcaster as it published the findings of an investigation into the damage caused by Storm Eva.

Two sides of the town were separated by the collapse of Tadcaster Bridge over the River Wharfe, while flooding caused by heavy rain affected 79 homes and businesses.

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A report published today said: “An improved system of flood defences in Tadcaster is a priority for the town. The current level of protection is low and whilst the rainfall preceding the flood was unusual, the risk of a repeat event remains.”

Tadcaster Bridge shown in 2016, as repair work went on. It collapsed in 2015.

It added that the defences in place at the time offered protection against the level of flooding expected every 25 to 30 years, but the floods of 2015 had a ‘return period’ of between 100 and 220 years.

The Environment Agency is preparing a funding bid for an improved flood defence scheme, but the report says all authorities and interested parties will need to work together to secure additional funding for a scheme acceptable to the community.

Improvements to drainage that could mitigate the impact of surface flooding should also be investigated by the County Council and Yorkshire Water, the report said.

But it added that there are no drainage improvements that could cope with a river flood of the magnitude seen in 2015.

Tadcaster Bridge shown in 2016, as repair work went on. It collapsed in 2015.

After one of the wettest Novembers in more than a hundred years and a December that saw twice the average rainfall, the Wharfe catchment was saturated before the rain fell on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The report was compiled by North Yorkshire County Council and approved last month. It was published on the authority’s website today.

Among other recommendations is that the County Council, Environment Agency and Tadcaster Flood Action Group should work together to identify opportunities to improve flood resilience within the town.

The report praises the flood action group for being instrumental in improving awareness and resilience since 2015.

It acquired pumps and a digital camera to monitor water levels, developed a community emergency plan, prepared flood packs for vulnerable properties, organised events and gave out information.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “The report has looked in detail at the flooding in 2015 and what further actions can be taken by the County Council and its partners, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and the flood action group, to minimise the risk of a similar event occurring again.

“I am pleased to see that the report has concluded that all partners discharged their statutory duties and that progress has been made since the flooding, and it is encouraging to see the level of commitment and involvement shown by residents.

“The flood action group, in particular, should be congratulated. There is no doubt Tadcaster is better prepared for flooding as a result of its activities.”

Gary Collins, Flood Risk Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “The flooding on Boxing Day 2015 had a devastating effect on Tadcaster and many other communities across Yorkshire.

“We’re continuing to work with North Yorkshire County Council, Tadcaster Town Council, Tadcaster Flood Action Group and the Environment Agency to reduce flood risk in Tadcaster.

“After the flooding, we immediately cleaned and surveyed our sewer network in Tadcaster and checked all of our assets in the area to ensure they were operating as they should have been.

“As a longer-term project, we’re carrying out extensive modelling of how surface water flows through Tadcaster by installing flow monitors in our sewer network. This work will help us to develop our future investment plans for the area.

“As the report states, there are no possible improvements to the sewer network that we could make that would allow the sewers to cope with the magnitude of that flood event.

“However, we’re committed to investigating if there are any other ways we can help reduce flood risk.”