North Yorkshire communities enlisted to help tackle threat of flooding

A car stuck in flooding at Spennithorne. Photo: Thomas Jones.

A new strategy to protect North Yorkshire from flooding is set to see greater community involvement before, during and after flood events.

Other key objectives set out as part of a revised flooding blueprint for the county until 2027 include introducing flood risk management measures that deliver social, economic and environmental benefits.

The publication of North Yorkshire County Council’s draft flooding strategy follows warnings the county’s geography, and in particular its 1,700km of main rivers and 23,000km of smaller ordinary watercourses, combined with climate change will leave it vulnerable to more frequent severe inundations in future.

It also follows a public consultation exercise on the strategy, which is scheduled to be considered by all the council’s elected members in November, finding 81 per cent of respondents agreed with its objectives.

The document states: “A key challenge highlighted in our Vision for North Yorkshire is for the council to play our part in helping develop the ability of communities to look after themselves to a greater degree than they already do.

“The development of community plans for managing and monitoring local flood risks is a key part of that vision. We want to engage with communities through the development of tools and resources that will enable communities to identify flood risks, and to take action to improve adaptation and resilience or reduce those risks.”

The document highlights a greater role for communities in managing flood risk, which the draft suggests is an “opportunity that can also be developed further through local government reorganisation”.

Responding to the consultation, a resident of Birstwith, near Harrogate, wrote that experts had surveyed the River Nidd, but had left “unsure about what to do next, hence no action is taken”.

He said: “There needs to be consultation with local communities effected by flooding – they often know the area better than anyone else and can work together with the local authority.”

However, the consultation also attracted criticism of the draft strategy, with a resident of Bradleys Both, near Skipton, describing it as “a wish list of grand aims which may or may not receive funding”.

He added: “Global warming, for us, tends to mean that many rain storms carry a far larger volume of water in a shorter space of time than we have been used to. We have local knowledge, but nobody is willing to use it; we just have to be content with the so-called routine gulley emptying.”

The draft also promotes work to improve understanding of flood risk and management responsibilities and watercourse network and drainage infrastructure, not just within the county council, but amongst partner organisations and communities.

Another leading objective, which saw strong public support in the consultation, was for sustainable and appropriate development utilising sustainable drainage wherever possible.

A number of respondents identified the need for greater emphasis on prevention which included clearing of watercourses, the improved maintenance of existing infrastructure and the introduction of natural flood management measures.

1 Comment

  1. “Another leading objective, which saw strong public support in the consultation, was for sustainable and appropriate development utilising sustainable drainage wherever possible.” So there was strong public support for development when utilising sustainable drainage was not possible? I don’t think so!

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