Press release

Yorkshire will be better protected from floods this winter

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announces new state of the art pumps for York's Foss Barrier - providing a 66% increase in capacity.

Foss Barrier flood defence, York

The Foss Barrier will be able to process an Olympic size swimming pool worth of water in just 50 seconds – a 66% increase in capacity - thanks to the installation of new state of the art pumps, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced today.

The pumps form part of a £17 million upgrade to York’s key flood defence, which includes ongoing work to raise the pumping room next year.

Eight new pumps will be in place by mid-October, increasing the barrier’s capacity to 40 cubic metres per second, up from 30. This means York will be assured protection from flooding should rivers rise to the record levels seen last winter. The barrier’s capacity will be further increased to 50 cubic metres per second next year, following upgrades to the power supply.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:

The flooding of the Foss Barrier became a focal point of last winter’s devastating floods and I am delighted to see it strengthened ahead of this winter, with £17 million invested, so our great city of York is better protected than ever before.

Of course we can’t stop the rain falling and rivers rising, but I want people to be assured we are doing everything we can to keep our communities as safe as possible.

That’s why we’re investing £400 million in flood defence schemes across Yorkshire, up until 2021, to better protect homes and families.

The Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, and the Environment Agency Chair, Emma Howard Boyd will visit the Foss Barrier today to see the first of eight new pumps being installed.

Construction work on York's Foss Barrier flood defence

In addition to the upgrade of the barrier, the government will spend £45 million on improving flood defences in York over the next 5 years - to better protect over 2,000 properties.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

I visited Yorkshire last year and saw the terrible impact of the floods, and the anxiety placed on communities. The new, high capacity pumps at the Foss Barrier will help to better protect and reassure the people of York this winter and we have further plans to improve the defences throughout the city over the next five years.

The installation of the pumps today is a key milestone in the Environment Agency’s extensive flood recovery programme, due to be completed in October.

Andrea Leadsom and Emma Howard Boyd will also visit Leeds today to see the development of a new flood defence scheme in the city, which will see for the first time in the UK the introduction of moveable weirs. These can be lowered in flood conditions to reduce river levels and the threat of river flooding.

The River Aire flood alleviation scheme will better protect more than 200 homes and businesses once completed in May next year. It will also reduce the likelihood of flood disruption to more than 3,000 city centre apartments.

The government has invested £33 million towards the scheme, which started in 2015. Leeds has also been allocated an additional £35 million up to 2021 towards the cost of another project to further protect Leeds upstream from the current scheme.

Published 26 September 2016