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Agenda item

Update on proposed flood defence improvements

Representatives from the Environment Agency and the CYC Flood Risk Team will give an update on the proposed improvements and answer questions from residents.



Tom Paget and Ben Hughes from the Environment Agency gave a presentation and along with Steve Wragg, Flood Risk Officer from CYC took residents questions.  


Ben explained his role with the Environment Agency was to deliver the York Five Year Plan.  The formal consultation on the Plan would begin in late June or early July.  


Tom gave a brief overview of the work that had been carried out over the last fifteen months and the next steps moving forward.  


After the 2015 flood he had been heavily involved on work on the Foss Barrier.  As a result of the increased funding the capacity of the barrier had increased to 40 tonnes per second.  Work was ongoing to increase this to 50 tonnes per second by end of next year.  The York Five Year Plan set out the options for delivering improvements in flood risk areas across the next five years.  They had also committed to carrying out a longer term plan looking at a ‘catchment scale’ approach to dealing with flooding in the Dales and Pennines and storage options to reduce the risk to the City and complement the existing flood defences.  Detailed discussions on this would take place after the General Election on 8th June.  


In respect to concerns expressed about people living downstream and how the increased capacity would affect them Tom said that they had commissioned a Foss Barrier Pumping Model study to show the worst case scenario of the potential implications of increasing the pumping capacity.  These were as follows:



          Potential increase in water level of 8cm

          Only occurs with a major flood on Ouse and Foss combined

          Modelling informs the operation of the barrier to ensure flood risk is not increased until permanent mitigation is in place

          This information also feeds into our 5 Year Plan


This work enabled them to make operational decisions during a flood to avoid problems downstream.   Using the £45M of government funding we will be better able to protect 2000 properties.  York had been split into ten communities, which had been further broken down into detailed flood cells.  This provided a more detailed understanding of different areas of the city with similar flooding mechanisms. 


The next step was to give priority to the construction of new defences to areas that have previously been unprotected.  The initial option outlined was to increase the height of the retaining walls by between 1 and 1.2 metres at Grange Garth and Alma Terrace running along New Walk and include 2 new flood gates.  


Site investigation work would commence over the summer and meetings would be arranged with communities in these areas to help us identify viable options. 


Over the Autumn and Winter a scheme could then be devised that all were happy with and consultation could then take place in 2018.  


If anyone had any queries the email address is yorkfloodplan@environment-agency.gov.uk




 A resident asked whether the scheme for the retaining wall was realistic.




Ben said they were currently looking at what was available.  If complete parity was wanted in defenses across the city this needed to be done.  They wanted to sit down with residents to find out what was acceptable and what they wanted.  


Steve said this was considered how best to defend the area.  It could be achieved by building a wall along New Walk.  We could raise if up but the water may seep underneath.  




 How does this design relate to the largest flood we have had.




Ben said they were using a one in a hundred year allowance for climate change. 




The Chair asked if there was any evidence that the flooding had actually damaged the existing wall.




Steve said that there had not been a lot of feedback.


Ben said he would be interested to hear what residents thought and then the information could be assessed.  The engineers needed to make sure that it was structurally possible.




Cllr Taylor raised the issue of the increased capacity of the pumps on the Foss on behalf of a resident.  The resident had read the 5 Year Plan and thought that in respect of the  increased flood levels on the Ouse, the defenses were a very “blunt instrument”.  His concerns were that these proposals may not be acceptable to the public but that their proposals upstream may be more acceptable but were not currently under consideration within the period of the plan.  




Ben said it would not make much difference on the size of the catchment, but smaller catchments and natural management measures could have an impact.  They needed to look at what could be achieved upstream on the Foss.  If all the measures in the 5 Year Plan were implemented the catchment measures would maximize the lifespan.  




Cllr Taylor raised a concern on behalf of another resident who was concerned about the whirlpool at Blue Bridge and wanted to know if this had this been taken into account with regard to the increased capacity of pumping of up to 50 tonnes per second.




Ben said that as part of the Pumping Manufacturers requirement they were keen to demonstrate that their pumps could take the planned capacity.  It may be that the bank may need to be strengthened.  This could be assessed next time the pumps were activated.  


Steve said that it was unlikely that there would be a one hundred year storm come down both the Foss and the Ouse.  The impact of low level flooding events would only be seen when the barriers were not in use.  




Cllr D’Agorne raised the issue of raising part of the access to the Millennium Bridge on the Butcher Terrace side.




Steve said that dry access across the bridge was included in the Plan as a potential outcome that was achievable and that he would take this forward. 



Ben said that it was planned to lease a building from the council to act as a hub to engage with the public and an exhibition centre after the General Election.



The Chair thanked Ben Tom and Steve for their presentation.  




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