Great Britain

Flood-hit hamlet set to get defences approved

A 220-METRE bank designed to stop flooding in a hamlet which has seen residents' lives repeatedly threatened when nearby river banks burst looks set to be approved by planners, despite having been built without planning permission.

Farmer John Flintoff has applied to Hambleton District Council for retrospective consent for the 8m wide and 2.5m high bund at Crakehill, near Thirsk, near Crakehill Beck and the River Swale.

It was created from locally sourced material and extends along his farm land following increasing serious flooding in the area, which some local residents claimed had began following the York flood barrier being launched.

A flood risk assessment report submitted to the council relates how Crakehill had flooded following Storm Ciara, but how in October 2012 Brian and Violet Coatsworth had been forced to pump water over a wall at the front of their home, when at 3am the wall collapsed and approximately 3ft of water washed through the house.

The report states Mr Coatsworth would have been killed if closer to the wall when it collapsed and that there had been 13 occasions since October 2019 alone when the residents would have been marooned if an amphibious vehicle had not been available.

Describing a flood in 2013, Mrs Coatsworth said: “We heard the River Swale rumbling, Brian was baling out water and then it came over the top of the wall like a tidal wave. Brian was clinging to a doorframe and I got swept from one end of the living room to the other. Another time Brian was crushed when the flood wall collapsed.”

She said surges of water, up to three feet deep, had destroyed many of their possessions and had been sufficiently powerful to sweep away their fridge.

Mrs Coatsworth said: “The water is like a yo-yo, it can be up and down in no time. Our lives have been shattered, we can’t sell the house as it is on a floodplain that looks like Loch Lomond and the only insurance quote we were able to get was £5,000.”

A planning officer’s report states Mr Flintoff acknowledges the bund has reduced the overall flood plain capacity, albeit by a very small percentage, and that the flood area in question covers nearly 1,600,000sq m. It states whilst the flood plain volume that is displaced as a result of the bund is about 25,000m3 is large, as a proportion of the area of the flood plain around Crakehill Beck, it is minimal.

The report concludes the bund does not impact the area’s landscapes as it lies in “a small valley... with its own character of winding watercourse.”

It states: “From a practical point of view the aims of providing flood defences is primarily to protect life and property, this bund covers both points. Bunds are not unusual in the district and this one has not been formed to hide or screen a development but to divert water from properties, the bund does not appear as a significantly intrusive feature. The justification of the bund outweighs the perceived harm.”