York & North Yorkshire

Improved flood defences 'a priority' for Tadcaster

Bridge over River Wharfe at Tadcaster in North Yorkshire Image copyright Joe Giddens/PA
Image caption Tadcaster was cut in half as the bridge over the River Wharfe collapsed

Flooding which caused a road bridge to collapse, cutting a town in two, could happen again, a report has said.

The bridge, over the River Wharfe at Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, collapsed in December 2015, affecting 79 homes and businesses.

The report, for North Yorkshire County Council, said improved defences should be a "priority".

The Environment Agency said it was preparing a funding bid for improved defences.

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The report said heavy rain over the Christmas period fell on ground already saturated following heavy rain throughout November and December.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The town's existing defences were overwhelmed by the volume of water

The level of the River Wharfe rose rapidly and overtopped the town's existing defences.

It states: "An improved system of flood defences in Tadcaster is a priority for the town.

"The current level of protection [for a one-in-25 year flood event] is low and whilst the rainfall preceding the flood was unusual, the risk of a repeat event remains."

Don Mackenzie, executive member on North Yorkshire County Council, said: "Clearly we want to see the basic defences built up higher so that we have more than the current 25 year protection. Ideally we would like to see a 100 year protection."

Image caption The bridge over the River Wharfe was rebuilt at a cost of over £4m

Nicola Eades, from Tadcaster Flood Action Group, welcomed the report.

"We are working closely with the organisations [on plans for defences] but it will be about what will be acceptable to the public."

She also said it would be dependent on what funding would be available nationally and regionally.

The report praises the Tadcaster Flood Action Group (TFAG) for its work in improving flood awareness and resilience in the town since 2015.

It concludes: "It is undoubtedly true that Tadcaster is better prepared for flooding through the actions and activities of TFAG."

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