York & North Yorkshire

York flood defence failures raised in 2004 report

Work continues to the Foss Barrier after the adjoining pumping station became inundated with flood water, on 29 December 2015 in York, England Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Foss Barrier was raised last month causing flooding after concerns about water pumps failing

Concerns over the risk of flood defences in York failing were raised 12 years ago, the BBC has learned.

Parts of the city were flooded last month after the Foss Barrier was raised amid fears the adjoining pumping station could be overwhelmed by water.

A council report quoted a 2004 study by the Environment Agency (EA) highlighting the flood risk if the pumps failed.

The EA is investigating while York MP Rachael Maskell is to raise the issue.

The subject was raised in a flood risk assessment report presented to City of York Council in March 2011.

The report cites the 2004 EA survey which said: "The greatest risk of flooding from the River Foss to the city of York is a direct result of the capacity of the pumps at the Foss Barrier being exceeded."

The Foss Barrier was built in 1987 at the cost of more than £3m and consists of a moveable gate which is dropped into position.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Homes in York were flooded in December when the Foss Barrier was raised

As the barrier stops the flow of the River Foss, eight high volume water pumps are used to move water around the barrier into the nearby River Ouse to maintain a steady water level.

The council report continued: "In November 2000, when York was threatened with flooding, the pumps at the Foss Barrier failed to operate for 3-4 hours owing to a power failure and as a result the water levels in the River Foss increased rapidly.

"Flooding in the River Foss catchment was only narrowly avoided."

The barrier was refurbished following the incident in 2000 but the report stated "the loss of a flood control system due to circumstances such as this is a real possibility".

York Central Labour MP Rachael Maskell said she would be asking the government and the EA why changes were not made to the barrier.

"Why did we have to wait for an incident when it was really clear in the reports they were saying there was a greater than a one-in-10-year chance of this happening?"

The EA said in a statement: "The building that houses the electrical systems was designed to be resilient and has watertight seals on all access doors.

"We know water got into the systems room and we are investigating why and how this happened and what needs to be done to safeguard its resilience in future."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites