Local North Yorkshire knowledge to form cornerstone of managing flood risk

Middleham Bridge over a flooded River Ure.

A move to give communities a greater role in managing flood risk and take more account of local knowledge has been welcomed.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive is on Tuesday set to approve an overhaul of its strategy to limit the impact of flooding amid concerns over the increasing frequency of major inundations leaving communities devastated.

The revised set of actions, which also includes improving knowledge and understanding of flood risk and management responsibilities, comes three years after unprecedented rainfall in a very short space of time caused catastrophic flooding in Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale.

Yorkshire Dales councillors said they welcomed the intention to take more account of local knowledge and pursue a more integrated response to flooding.

Upper Wensleydale and Swaledale councillor Jill McMullon said: “We did have a flooding issue at Appersett and came up with a simple solution to clear the river of the silt built up over the years which had caused the bed to rise.

“But when the idea was highlighted hands went up in horror saying we couldn’t do this and we couldn’t do that, so I think putting a bit more emphasis on local knowledge and common sense and a little less on red tape is a good idea, if that is how it works out.”

An officer’s report to the meeting states: “In terms of ongoing work with the communities, North Yorkshire County Council will build on the community engagement work that has recently been undertaken in the Dales, following significant flooding.

“There are also a number of best practice examples of community involvement across North Yorkshire that will be used to form the basis of further community work.”

The council’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, said while the extremes of climate were now having an impact on North Yorkshire, he was also conscious that it was water from the county that floods York.

The overhaul follows recommendations by the authority’s Transport, Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee, which underlined the need for the council to take into account local communities local knowledge of drainage and flood risk issues when responding to consultations, strategies and crucially, when deciding what land should be developed.

It also comes after a public consultation which featured calls for a more streamlined and integrated response to support communities before, during and after flood events, including the development of action plans and the need for emotional support.

Key objectives of the revised strategy include promoting sustainable development utilising sustainable drainage wherever possible.

The ambition follows concerns over building on flood plains, passing risk elsewhere in relation to planning permissions and regular calls from councillors for greater detail on flood risk before planning applications are considered.

Other objectives include improving knowledge and understanding of flood risk and management responsibilities within the council and across communities, as well as knowledge of watercourse network and drainage infrastructure.

2 Comments

  1. It might help if certain people moving into the Dales didn’t chop down trees and shrubs in their gardens and block pave to accommodate their large vehicles!!! Education might help.

  2. When will the powers that be see that planting some trees is not going to stop the flash floods we get in lower Wensleydale and down to York.
    I worked from 1968 to 2003 maintaining the many moor land spring clean tap water supplies in Wensleydale which would run down the miles of pipelines off the moors through covered reservoirs with no assistance from expensive to run electric pumps.
    What we need is some big investment to build some large open air reservoirs in upper Wensleydale such as Cotterdale and the valley from Semerwater to above Bainbridge and other small valleys need to be looked at which would help hold the flash floods back and supply clean tap supply water which also could generate electricity and stop expensive pumping dirty water out of the river Ure in lower Wensleydale through the treatment plant and then pumping it several times back up to upper Wensleydale where it came from in the first place.

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