Plans to create a flood storage area on the River Foss north of Strensall have now been given the green light by two local authority planning committees.
Work is expected to start next spring on the new flood storage area to better protect 490 vulnerable homes between Strensall and The Groves area of York from flooding.
The scheme, which falls within the boundary of two councils, has been approved by Ryedale District Council’s planners this week – and was given the go ahead by City of York Council last month (November).
Located in the rural area 2km north of Strensall, the scheme will also reduce flood risk to key transport routes and result in benefits to the environment including tree planting, wetland creation and improvements to river bank habitat.
The purpose of the storage area is to help reduce peak flows in the river, therefore reducing flooding downstream. During heavy rain, the structure fills with water, temporarily holding back flood water and reducing the flood risk to properties along the Foss Corridor, towards York city centre. Once the flood has passed the water in the storage area will subside.
For the vast majority of time the structure will not need to be used in this way which means that farming practices will be able to continue in the area.
Project manager Richard Lever, from the Environment Agency, said:
We are delighted that Ryedale District Council has approved our plans this week to create a Flood Storage Area on the River Foss which will reduce flood risk for 490 properties as part of the York Flood Alleviation Scheme.
In addition to flood risk benefits, the scheme will also have environmental benefits such as the growth of valuable wetland habitat, creating space for local wildlife and improving water quality downstream.
These areas are not like reservoirs and do not store water permanently. They are designed to be dry in normal weather conditions and only fill up for short periods during large flood events.
Unlike other physical flood defences, a flood storage area can be built at some distance from the communities they protect and therefore have less impact than building formal defences.
During a flood event, the level of the River Foss can rise rapidly exposing properties, roads and land to the risk of severe flooding. This is likely to increase with more extreme weather conditions predicted due to climate change. Currently there are no flood defences along the Foss Corridor and a flood storage area is the only viable option.
Out of all the projects included in the Yorks Flood Alleviation Scheme, this proposal will deliver the largest benefits in terms of numbers of properties protected.
Mr Lever said:
As well as reducing flood risk, the storage area will also have environmental benefits. This scheme will facilitate the growth of valuable wetland habitat, create space for local wildlife and help improve water quality downstream.
Materials for building the embankment for the storage area will be taken from within the site, creating pits which fill with water and act as permanent shallow ponds.
Discussions about the proposals have been held at parish council meetings, public events and with landowners, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Foss Internal Drainage Board and Natural England.
Following the severe flooding in York in Dec 2015, where over 600 properties were flooded, central Government committed £45m to fund projects to better protect properties in the city.
Environment Agency flood schemes protected almost 130,000 properties during the winter 2019/20 flooding, even though water levels were higher in some places than the floods of 2007 when 55,000 properties flooded.
Since 2015, the Government has invested £496m flood defences in Yorkshire – more than any other region – better protecting more than 66,000 properties
For more information about York’s Flood Alleviation Scheme
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