February 2020 was the wettest on record in Yorkshire, with the River Aire catchment experiencing three and a half times the average monthly rainfall. This resulted in large volumes of water spilling from the lower River Aire in to the washlands, filling them to capacity and in some cases, overflowing.
This in turn damaged a number of flood embankments that sit alongside the river to protect local communities. Emergency temporary repairs were carried out in the immediate aftermath of the flooding and the Environment Agency has spent the rest of the year making permanent repairs at locations across the Lower Aire washlands.
More repair work will start on 1 March at Heck Ings and repairs are also underway at Temple Hirst on an embankment next to the Sloop Inn pub.
Kimberley MacPherson, West Yorkshire Operations Manager at the Environment Agency, said:
The floods of Storm Ciara had a devastating impact on communities in Yorkshire. Our thoughts remain with those affected, especially people who are yet to return to their homes and who have also had to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Our £10 million package of repairs is progressing well. These refurbished flood defences were recently put to the test again during Storm Christoph in January and successfully withstood the winter flood conditions. We’ll continue to work at pace with the aim of completing our repair programme by the end of the summer.
Timetable of repairs and works completed
- At Heck Ings, repairs have started on the riverside embankment which was damaged in the floods because of wave action and flood water overtopping the bank. The Heck Ings flood storage reservoir is part of a series of reservoirs that help protect Gowdall and the surrounding villages from flooding from the River Aire.
- Work at two sites at Hirst Courtney have started with repairs to flood embankments in the village and work to prevent river channel erosion near The Sloop Inn pub at Temple Hirst. Rock armour is being used to strengthen the embankment.
- Work is underway to build up a low spot in an embankment at Brotherton Ings and repairs have started to an embankment at Eskamhorn Farm, Rawcliffe.
- A new flood defence wall is being proposed at Newlands, with work due to start shortly. Temporary repairs are in place until permanent works can start.
- Works to repair embankments at Hensall are due to start in March.
- Work to repair the embankment at Chapel Haddlesey is also due to start in March.
- Repair work has been completed at Little Airmyn, West Holme, and West Haddlesey.
- Repairs at Poor bank and Pickhill embankments are complete, which are part of reservoirs that help reduce the flood risk to the communities of Gowdall and Snaith.