Julian visits York flood defences on upper River Ouse
May 10, 2022
Last week Julian visited flood defence sites in the upper reaches of the Ouse, checking the progress of work to control the flow of water downstream towards York.
He toured defence sites on the edge of the North York Moors around Swainby with local Environment Agency officials, obtaining a clear picture of how the city’s exposure to flooding can be controlled by better management of upper river catchments.
The upstream defence work of the Environment Agency and City of York Council is based on catchment management and ‘natural flood management’ techniques. In contrast to ‘hard’ physical flood defences like the Foss Barrier, which protect against water once it has arrived, these techniques seek to reduce the amount of water coming downriver in the first place by both pinning it back upstream and slowing the flow of water downriver.
This is done through measures like building floodwater storage areas where water can be held, improving soil health and planting trees and hedgerows to trap water, and restoring river meanders to slow water movement.
After the trip, Julian said: “Given the vital importance of flood protection to our city, I thought it was vital to view the ongoing upper Ouse defence projects in person, and get a detailed update from our hardworking local Environment Agency team.
Although we have mercifully had no repeat of the terrible flooding of December 2015, the high waters of February this year and in early 2021 have shown this remains a significant risk for many people in my constituency, especially communities like Fulford, Acaster Malbis, Naburn and Bishopthrorpe.
Upper catchment defences to trap water in the Yorkshire uplands are the best long-term way to reduce York’s flood risk, and I will continue to support this essential work in any way I can.”