£16m defences could making flooding in Tadcaster 'one in 100-year event'

Defences aimed at making flooding in Tadcaster a one-in-a-hundred year event have been unveiled by the Environment Agency.

The £16m scheme is being designed to prevent the “devastating” flooding the town has seen at several points over the last decade. Proposals include improved defences on both sides of the River Wharfe incorporating bunds – barriers which protect properties from rising water, sheet piles and retaining walls.

The Environment Agency said it wants the defences to be in keeping with existing buildings and walls in the town and is also keen to ensure the areas around the church and surrounding historic properties benefit from a greater level of flood protection and retain their special character. The scheme also aims to improve biodiversity, with the construction of a fish pass also planned.

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Tadcaster’s existing flood defences were constructed in the 1980s and are a combination of raised earth embankments and flood walls along both banks of the river. A series of drop-in events are being held at The Ark, Tadcaster Town Council, so people can have the opportunity to view designs.

Flood defences in TadcasterFlood defences in Tadcaster
Flood defences in Tadcaster

Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams said: “Tadcaster needs improved flood defences as soon as possible to prevent the river overtopping its banks as it did in 2015 when the bridge collapsed, 2017 and again in 2022. This is a major step forward and I encourage everybody interested in the scheme to attend one of the drop-in events where Environment Agency staff will be on hand to explain the design.”

After damaging floods in February 2022, Tadcaster residents, businesses and politicians asked why work on the defences had not started when the government allocated £11m for them in 2019.

Paul Stockhill, area flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “The town has experienced devastating floods as recently as February last year, and we are working as fast as we can to develop a scheme which offers the best possible level of flood protection for people and is able to withstand the increasingly extreme weather we are experiencing as a result of climate change.”

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Following the consultation, detailed design work will begin and planning permission will be sought. If permissions are granted, construction will begin in 2024 – with the current completion date estimated as the end of 2026.

Coun Kirsty Poskitt, who represents the Tadcaster division at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “The public consultation on the new flood alleviation scheme is really welcome. The plans have been progressing well over the past few months so it’s essential that the public now get to have their say.

“This scheme will see a big change to our landscape on the riverside and I’ve been impressed by the Environment Agency’s engagement to date on really important matters, like how we keep those areas usable for all, protection of our historic sites and how wildlife will be impacted.”

Events will be held at The Ark, Kirkgate, Tadcaster on: Tuesday, 14th March – 2pm to 8pm; Friday, 17th March – 12pm to 6pm; Tuesday, 21st March – 10am to 5pm; Saturday, 25th March – 10am to 2pm; Tuesday, 28th March – 10am to 8pm; Friday, 31st March – 10am to 4pm; Tuesday, 4th April – 10am to 5pm; Tuesday, 11th April – 10am to 8pm; Friday, 14th April – 10am to 4pm.