Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roman remains spark delay concerns over flood protection

Yorkshire Post

DETAILED research is under way for a revised scheme to protect one of Yorkshire's worst flooding blackspots amid concerns archaeology dating from the Roman era could cause further delays.

A feasibility study has been commissioned on the flood defence scheme for Pickering after the original proposals were halted in June last year when it emerged the costs had almost tripled to £3.2m.

The study is expected to be published at the end of March before a decision is made on the exact design of earth embankments which are planned to hold back up to 17.5m gallons of water from Pickering Beck.

But senior members of the Slowing the Flow partnership board have admitted more delays could emerge as the remains of a Roman bath house are located close to one of the proposed sites for the defences.

Talks are also under way with archaeological experts, and discussions are also continuing to resolve issues concerning land ownership and access to the sites earmarked for the £1.3m scheme.

The partnership board's chairman, Jeremy Walker, said: "There are still a lot of hoops still to go through, but we are doing all we can to get on site at some point this year to start work."

It is hoped that a planning application will be submitted this summer to either North Yorkshire County Council or the North York Moors National Park Authority, depending on the exact location of the proposed earth bunds.

Costs soared when it emerged the initial proposals needed to be classed as a category A reservoir – the highest standard – because of the risk to public safety if it were to fail. But it is hoped the revised plans will still ensure flood risk in Pickering falls to a 4 per cent chance each year. The town's current annual risk is about a 10 per cent chance of flooding.