Work to combat future floods in Pickering, which began yesterday with the cutting of the first turf, was hailed by the area’s MP and the Town Mayor as a scheme which should end the flooding misery of scores of businesses and households in the town.
More than two years after an earlier scheme had to be dropped because of escalating costs, construction work on the flood storage reservoir at Newtondale, is underway.
Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton, and chairman of the Government’s Environment and Rural Affairs Select Committee, who has been one of the leaders of the £2 million project, said: “The start of the building of the reservoir as part of Pickering’s ‘Slow the Flow’ scheme is excellent news for the town and I’m delighted that the work is now underway. Taken together with the other land management measures, it should protect the town from all but the most extreme floods in future.”
The flood defence scheme, which is the first of its kind in the country, will result in using nature to try to store more water flowing from the moors above Pickering, which suffered severe floods four times since 1999.
A partnership was set up by Defra, and led by Forest Research, the Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, North York Moors National Park Authority, Natural England, Ryedale District Council and North Yorkshire County Council to store water in the landscape at Newbridge, north of Pickering, to slow down the flow of water into Pickering Beck, the river which runs through the town.
Already wood debris dams have been built and now work is underway on the building of a reservoir using thousands of tonnes of clay which is being transported into the site over the next few months.
Ms McIntosh said: “Taken with the other flood alleviation measures such as planting trees, the debris dams and timber bunds, this flagship scheme will have an enormous benefit on Pickering which has suffered substantially in frequent floods.”
The scheme is to be closely monitored by the Environment Agency because it believes it could be replicated in other parts of the country.
Pickering’s Mayor, Cllr Sue Cowan, believed the already-constructed wood dams were proving a success. “The project will, I am sure, hold back the force of heavy rainwater coming into Pickering. Some excellent work has been done already and I applaud the initiative and planning which has gone into the scheme because it will benefit so many businesses and homes.”
Cllr Cowan said she was anxious to see a clean-up of areas of the beck in Pickering’s town centre. “We need to clear out bags of rubbish which have been dumped, and generally clean it up to ensure the clear flow of water.”