Pickering’S long-awaited flood defence scheme has taken a step forward with plans expected by the end of the year.

It follows a meeting in York of the Slow the Flow group set up by the Environment Agency, with the North York Moors National Park Authority, Ryedale District Council, Pickering Town Council, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

The plan is to build earth mounds, known as bunds, in the Newton Dale area.

“They will make a difference by decreasing the flow of rain water from the moors in to the town by about half a cubic metre per second,” said Coun Brian Baker, former mayor of Pickering, who represents the council on the group.

He said there had been three main decisions made by the group – to look at ways financing the gap in funding, to explore funding opportunities and to go forward with plans.

The cost of the scheme is estimated to be £1.2m–£1.8m.

Coun Baker said it was also hoped to reduce costs by having some of the work carried out by the Environment Agency.

Some dams have been built north of Pickering by the Forestry Commission and have proved successful. The bunds are to be built in an area running parallel with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and towards Hunters Bridge.

Coun Baker said: “The bunds will not be intrusive – they will look like a grass embankment. The structure will enable floodwater to be released slowly into Pickering Beck. I think we can be cautiously optimistic that the scheme will proceed.”

The scheme is still subject to financial confirmation by the multi-agency board.