The ambitious project to a build reservoir to protect scores of homes and businesses in Pickering in North Yorkshire has been blighted by a series of delays and escalating costs.
The town has been hit by four severe floods in recent year with millions of pounds worth of damage done to homes and shops, and there has been a campaign to tackle the issue spanning more than a decade.
The Environment Agency has now confirmed that work will start early in the New Year on the main scheme.
Dean Hamblin, the Environment Agency’s project manager, said tree clearance, archaeological investigations and site-set-up work is underway to enable the work on the main scheme to begin next year.
“Pickering has a long history of flooding especially in 1999, 2000 and 2002 with 20 properties being flooded each time,” said Mr Hamblin. “But the worst flood was in June 2007 when the A170 Scarborough to Thirsk road through Pickering, and 85 properties were flooded, causing an estimated £7m work of damage.”
The new scheme also includes the building of earth mounds, tree planting and farm management action to hold the water and stop it coming down from the moors into Pickering Beck.
“The town is particularly vulnerable to flash flooding,” said Mr Hamblin, who added that the Beck Isle area had a less than one in 10 chance of flooding a year, and other parts of Pickering, a one-in-25 chance.
The project has been blighted by a series of delays and escalating costs.
The scheme had initially been expected to cost £1.3m, but it had to be put on hold when the figure soared. It has had to be redesigned and is now set to cost in the region of £2m.
The MP for Thirsk and Malton and the chairwoman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, Anne McIntosh, said: “The news that work on this long awaited scheme is now underway will be welcomed by everyone in Pickering, not least the businesses and families living in the lower Market Place area and Park Street which have been so badly hit in the past few years.”