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  1. ITV Report

Multi-million pound scheme to better York flood defences

The Foss Barrier and pumping station. Photo: ITV Tyne Tees

The Environment Agency says it's confident there won't be a repeat of last year's Boxing Day floods which crippled parts of York, as millions of pounds are being ploughed into defences.

Hundreds of properties were affected when the Foss Barrier and pumping station failed during the worst flooding in a decade.

A year on, some people have yet to return to their homes and businesses.

Hundreds of properties were affected when the Foss Barrier and pumping station failed during the worst flooding in a decade. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Since 1987, the Foss Barrier's protected York, preventing high levels from the larger River Ouse from entering the smaller River Foss.

But it was overwhelmed during last December's heavy rains on Boxing Day, with 40 tonnes of water per second coming down the Foss.

Tony Andryszewski from the Environment Agency said it was designed to deal with 30 tonnes per second and couldn't cope:

We weren't expecting the sort of flows that were coming down that we experienced. We have never experienced those before, so it caught us all off guard really. It was an extreme event and one which the site wasn't designed for."

– Tony Andryszewski, Environment Agency
Heavy rain on Boxing Day saw 40 tonnes of water per second coming down the Foss. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

York's Huntington Road, Fossgate and Walmgate were among the areas affected, with some people having to be rescued by boat.

As a result of the flooding, the government announced £17 million would be spent upgrading the Foss Barrier.

As a result of the flooding, the government announced £17 million would be spent upgrading the Foss Barrier. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

ITV Tyne Tees took resident, Gary Bateson, who was out of his home for seven months after it ended up under four feet of water, to the barrier to meet the engineer in charge of the project, Tony Andryszewski, to find out what is being done.

He was told the stations eight pumps have been replaced and now have a greater capacity, which is expected to be greater still next year when the station will be able to pump 50 tonnes of water per second. The electrics have also been replaced and moved to a higher level and the Environment Agency says further improvements mean it should cope if similar circumstances occur in the future.

After the meeting, Gary Bateson said he felt more reassured:

There will be obviously heavy rainfall in the river but the pumps here and the defences they are putting in place are really going to make big, big difference. It should give us all the confidence that we can sit in our sitting rooms on Boxing Day with a nice glass of something and say cheers."

– Gary Bateson, resident