SCIENTISTS and local people hope that nine months of working together on an innovative new project may provide the solution to the persistent flooding in the Pickering area.
The group revealed the findings of their project, “The Ryedale Flood Research Group – Making Space for People”, at a presentation at the Pickering Memorial Hall yesterday.
The project report concludes that creating flood water storage areas and tackling vegetation growth in Ryedale’s rivers and river banks could play a key part in the fight against flood damage.
Durham University scientist Stuart Lane, who directed the project, said: “The people who live with flooding know as much, if not more, as scientists like me.
“The problem with flooding is that there are many possible solutions, but we don’t have the time or the money to try them all out.
“By working with local people, we can ask them what they think, and take their views into account.
“For example, we have been looking at a lot of upstream storage, and we have been asking local people where they think it should be located.
“They have been able to tell us that certain locations are too near to vital infrastructure, such as train lines.
“We have been working very hard on this project, because when we met the people of Pickering and Sinnington, we realised that we wanted to, and had to, make a difference.”
The team of scientists from Oxford, Durham, Newcastle and East Anglia universities decided to work with local people to try and find a solution that combined science with local knowledge.
Now the scientists have recommended the building of small bunds upstream of Pickering Beck and the River Seven which could significantly reduce flood risk downstream in the market town itself at
relatively low cost.
They say that clearing vegetation and accumulated sediment from the town’s drainage system could also help the problem, because flood water would move more quickly though the town and would have
less time to seep into people’s homes.
Betty Grove, a calligrapher living in Pickering, volunteered to take part in the project. She said: “The flooding in June 2007 was really horrendous.
‘‘It affected a lot of the businesses on Bridge Street. Television House electrical shop had to move, the Ginger Pig deli and Ryedale Travel were closed for a while, and one bed and breakfast was
out-of-action for a year.
“Flooding really affects the local economy, so I wanted to do what I could to help.”
Sue Pickersgill, a librarian who lives in nearby Sinnington, said: “Sixteen homes were flooded in Sinnington, and other people’s homes escaped the floods, but they couldn’t get to them.
“I remember leaving work at 6pm, and when I got home, my house was flooded.
‘‘It’s absolutely dreadful, really depressing. This project is a really good idea.
“We all just feel that if we can get something started, it’ll get people’s hopes up, and that in itself will be enough to push the authorities to do something to prevent future flood damage.
“It is better than just sitting here, and waiting until it happens again.”