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A well-rehearsed pumping plan saved Malton and Norton from serious flooding when water levels on the River Derwent became very high at the beginning of April.

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The level of the Derwent on 3 April 2018 triggered the multi-agency pump plan, which is the combined response to flood warnings from North Yorkshire County Council, Ryedale District Council, the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water.

The main river flood risk in Malton, Norton and Old Malton is managed by the flood gates and defences operated by the Environment Agency but when river levels are high drainage systems which flow into the Derwent cannot discharge and surface water flooding is also experienced. Because of the improved warning system all organisations were at strategic locations with pumps at least 24 hours before pumping was required and, as a result, the situation was controlled.

A debrief meeting of the agencies involved also concluded that pipes recently installed by the county council’s highways department and Yorkshire Water under roads and crossing rail tracks reduced the road closures and travel disruption associated with pumping operations.

The County Council leader and executive member for emergency planning, Councillor Carl Les, said: “The lack of flooding experienced in the towns was only as a result of the well-executed action of organisations to the event and if they had not acted, levels were high enough to have seen floods similar to those experienced in previous years.

“The pump plan is improved and added to after every event and the operational response consequently continues to improve. It is reassuring to know that when a warning is issued the response can now be swift enough to make sure that we are on top of the pumping efforts required, that travel disruption can be kept to a minimum during pumping and, crucially, while we can never remove the risk completely, we can offer the best chance possible that homes and properties will not be flooded.

“The partnership is working with the local town councils to increase the local preparedness and it is hoped that trained volunteers comprising residents and business owners will be able to support the response further in the future and increase the resilience of the local community.”

Councillor Luke Ives, Chairman of Ryedale District Council’s Policy and Resources Committee added, “We saw a swift and effective response to raising ground water levels in April this year – working together closely with the County Council, Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water. This clearly demonstrates how effective the multi-agency partnership is when activating the Malton, Norton and Old Malton Pump plan.

“We’re also in a position to help other communities who want to develop plans to help protect themselves in the future. The District Council has established a flood grant scheme to support community projects that help to protect against flooding. The next round of applications for funding will be considered by councillors in early September. Malton, Norton and Brawby have already secured flood grants as communities who have invested in pumping equipment which can be deployed quickly to help minimise flooding problems.”

Leah Humphries, Flood Risk Engineer at Yorkshire Water, said: “This is the first major flood event since we finished installing the new pipeline under the railway in Norton to make it easier to deploy the pumps and it was great to see the plan in action protecting the community. We’re continuing to work with the other agencies to reduce flood risk in Malton and Norton.”

Neil Longden, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Whilst the multi-agency response to the potential risk of flooding in April was successful, we cannot become complacent and will continue to learn lessons and strengthen the response. As multi-agency partners we will continue to work together to ensure we deliver the best incident response service we can.”