Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) - Information Page

Closes 31 Dec 2022

Opened 14 Aug 2020


Welcome to the Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme Information Page.

We have created this page to provide easy access to information on the Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS), including background information about how the scheme evolved and a summary of our latest proposals to reduce the risk of flooding to homes in the North Carr and Sutton areas of Hull.

We will continue to update this page as we progress this scheme so please keep checking for what’s new.


During the Coronavirus pandemic, the Environment Agency is following government guidance to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Our priorities are to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, our partners, businesses and the communities we work in. We have adapted our working practices to meet all requirements resulting from this. This means that we continue to be prepared to respond to an environmental incident such as flooding or pollution. You can still report any incidents on the telephone numbers given below. We are also following government instructions to continue working on the construction and maintenance of flood risk management schemes. These are essential to protect lives and livelihoods. If you see our staff or our contractors working on site, you can be sure that they are following safe ways of working and will not put anyone at risk. If the work cannot be done safely, it will stop. Please accept our assurance that we are doing all we can to ensure work continues as much as possible, and that any delays caused by the pandemic are kept to an absolute minimum. We will continue to review the situation in light of further advice from the government. Our latest position is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency Customer service line: 03708 506 506
Incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60
Floodline: 03459 881188


The Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) is a £28 million project to reduce flood risk for homes and businesses from the Holderness Drain.

The scheme involves work at two sites:

  1. in East Hull we are replacing the existing pumping station with a new one; and
  2. at Castlehill we are creating an aquagreen ( also called a 'flood storage area'). This will reduce the risk of flooding to existing homes, mainly in the North Carr and Sutton areas of Hull.

Together both components of the scheme will provide a long term and more sustainable approach to managing water in the Holderness Drain catchment.

This is a partnership project, led by the Environment Agency and supported by our partners, Hull City Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council,  National Highways and Hull and East Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund Programme.

Parter and funder logos

Please note that our proposals for an aquagreen at Castlehill are completely separate to the proposals you may have already seen or heard about for housing on land to the south of this site at East Carr. If you have any questions about this, please contact Hull City Council.

Why is the scheme needed?

The Holderness Drain catchment covers an area of low lying agricultural land which drains water from the Yorkshire Wolds through to the Humber Estuary, on the eastern side of Hull. Managing water in this catchment is particularly difficult as the land is flat and often below sea level at high tide. This means that water in the Holderness Drain empties into the Humber very slowly and needs to be assisted by pumping stations along the way.  After periods of heavy rainfall, water levels in the Drain can remain high for many days, posing a risk of flooding to homes and businesses within the catchment.

Large areas of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire were badly flooded in July 2007 following heavy rainfall, with thousands of homes and businesses inundated. The North Carr and Sutton areas, on the eastern side of Hull, were particularly affected by these floods. 

Homes flooded in Hull in 2007.  Photo courtesy of Ellie Hardy 

Following this traumatic event, MPs, local authorities and local people campaigned for more investment in flood protection.  In response to this, the Environment Agency has worked with partners to find ways to reduce flood risk in Hull and the surrounding area.

A range of different options were considered for the Holderness Drain catchment.  The need to do something has become more urgent as the old pumping station in East Hull, built in 1949 to help to pump high water flows, has now reached the end of its working life and needs to be replaced.

What's happened so far

2016 - a grant from the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund Programme enabled Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council to purchase the site at Castlehill to provide space for a flood storage area.

2017 - in April the Environment Agency held a public event in the Guildhall in Hull to present our proposals for several flood risk management projects in the city, including the initial concepts for the Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme.

2018 - we looked at the different options and funding available to determine the best approach to solving the problem of flooding in the North Carr and Sutton areas.  This involved modelling water flows in the catchment to help us understand how it behaves in both normal and flood conditions.  Using the results from this, we developed a plan for the site that provides environmental and social benefits as well as reducing flood risk.

2019 - in July we secured sufficient funding to enable work to start on the design of the pumping station and the aquagreen. 

Jan 2020 - we obtained planning consent to start work on the pumping station. 

May 2020 - construction of East Hull Pumping Station started.

Aug/Sept 2020 - we  carried out a public consultation to gather feedback on our proposals for the Castlehill Aquagreen.

Spring and Summer 2021 – we continued to develop designs for the aquagreen following feedback responses from the consultation. This led to some revisions of the earlier scheme proposals, to include additional work on several drains within the scheme boundaries.

November 2021 - we submitted an application for planning consent for the Castlehill Aquagreen to both Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council.   


More details about the scheme

East Hull Pumping Station

In May 2020 we started work to build the new pumping station in East Hull.  This will be located on the Holderness Drain just above the point where it flows into the Humber estuary.  Given the isolated and industrial nature of this site and the fact that there is no public access to it, there will be minimal disturbance to the public during construction.


Photo: Work started in 2021 on the new pumping station at East Hull

Benefits of the scheme

The new pumping station in East Hull will be more energy efficient than the old one, using modern technological designs.  It will also be less harmful to fish than the existing pumps.

December 2021 Update

In spite of earlier delays caused by flooding and obstacles in the bottom of the drain, our contractors have made good progress with construction of the pumping station over the summer months.

During June, July and August work started on building the concrete base structure for the crane slab. Situated on the bank of the drain, this is required for the maintenance of the drain, after the pumping station is built.  It needs to be strong enough to accommodate a very large crane, used to lift the pumps out when required, and also to provide space for a skip to hold waste removed from the weed screens that will sit in the drain in front of the pumps.  Work also started to build the base for the Motor Control Centre for the pumping station (the control building) at the side of the drain.

In October work started on building the pumping station foundations in the cofferdam.  This required the excavation of an area within the cofferdam in the channel of the drain.  The photo shows a large crane positioned on the completed crane slab and a shoring frame (big red metal braces used to support the walls of the cofferdam) in place before excavations start.  A second shoring frame is needed lower down, as excavations proceed.


By the end of December, excavations should have reached the point where we can pour a concrete base in the bottom of the cofferdam. This will allow us to start building the new pumping station in January 2022.

May 2021 update:

We are continuing work on the construction of the new East Hull Pumping Station, following almost two months of severe disruption caused by repeated flooding of the site.  This resulted from problems with the operation of the old tidal doors at the end of Holderness Drain, leading into the estuary. Fortunately more extensive flooding was prevented by the operation of the Environment Agency’s tidal doors further inland at Heddon Road.

The old tidal doors, located where the Holderness Drain empties into the Humber estuary, will become redundant once the new pumping station is fully operational and will be removed in winter 2022. In the meantime we have taken action to improve the reliability of these doors so that construction work can progress without further delays.

Despite these setbacks, the installation of permanent and temporary sheet piling has now been completed. This has enabled us to temporarily divert the river around the area where the new pumping station will be built, as shown in the photo below. We have also completed all of the deep piling foundation works on the east bank of the Holderness Drain.

Unfortunately, during construction of the works, our contractors made the unexpected discovery of a thick layer of furnace slag lining the river bed. This must have been deposited there at some point in the past – we don’t actually know where it came from but it has caused difficulties for the construction team. The hard, metallic boulders formed from the slag are too deep to be removed by digging.  They have formed a barrier, preventing the installation of pre cast concrete foundation piles originally designed for the pumping station structure. This has meant that we have had to re-design the scheme and make changes in the way we will construct the foundations for the new pumping station. Work on this next phase of construction is now planned to begin in July. The scheme is now due for completion in December 2022, with the pumps operational in the autumn of 2022.

January 2021 update:

Work is continuing on the excavation of a bypass flume channel to divert the drain around the footprint of the new pumping station, with the next phase of piling due to commence on the 25th January.

November 2020 update:

Work has started on building a ‘cofferdam’ on the east side of the drain, using sheet piling to create a flume channel so that water can be temporarily diverted round the middle of the channel but still able to drain into the estuary.  This will leave the centre of the drain dry, enabling the contractors to build the pumping station there.  As the photograph shows, the new structures are quite substantial (over 6 metres high) and require specialist equipment to put them in place.

During November the installation of sheet piling will be completed and then the new flume channel needs to be excavated. At the same time work has started on the west side of the channel to prepare an access ramp for piling on the west side.

As a result of delays in the summer (partly bad weather and also problems with the hinge on the existing tidal doors) the work is now scheduled to be completed in spring 2022.

When finished, the pumping station will operate four pumps, capable of pumping up to 10 cubic meters of water per second out of the Holderness Drain into the estuary, to help reduce the risk of flooding in the Holderness Drain catchment. The pumps will be activated when heavy rain leads to high water levels in the drain and simultaneously high tides prevent water flowing naturally into the Humber.

Diagram of the pumping station, seen from the Humber Estuary side, showing the pipes from the four pumps taking water from the drain.


Castlehill Aquagreen

We intend to create an aquagreen (a flood storage area) at Castlehill, reducing flood risk for residents in the Sutton and North Carr wards in Hull. This will be built on land south of the old Bransholme dairy farm, shown on the map below.  Like the aquagreens in other parts of Hull, the site will be dry in normal weather conditions and will only store water during a flood. Once the peak of the flood has passed, the site will release water slowly back into Holderness Drain, so reducing the risk of flooding to homes and businesses in the neighbourhood.   

Site of the proposed aquagreen with extended boundaries shown in red

In November 2021 we submitted planning applications for the aquagreen to Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council.  These were approved by both local authorities in January 2022. 

Construction of the aquagreen will start in the spring of this year and will be completed by the winter. 

What’s been approved

The designs for the scheme include:

  • installing metal sheet piling walls along a stretch of East Carr Drain in order to raise the height of flood defences across the site and remove the risk posed by several low points;
  • realigning (moving) part of Sutton Cross Drain between Castlehill Road and the Trans Pennine Trail further eastwards.  The old section of the drain will be filled in;
  • raising the banks of Holderness Drain and Sutton Cross Drain in particular locations to stop flood water overspilling from these two drains.

Overall these will provide a consistent level of protection against flooding and reduce the risk of flooding for homes in the area.

The changes in design mean that we don’t need to dig a new drain across the site, as proposed in the original design or create depressions for water storage; the site will still function as a flood storage area but holding water across a wider area. They also bring huge cost savings and reduce carbon emissions from the scheme, as we won’t be moving substantial quantities of earth to create new embankments and ditches.  In addition the construction period for these designs is considerably shorter than for the original scheme.

Benefits of the scheme

In addition to reducing flood risk, the scheme at Castlehill will bring both environmental and social benefits to the neighbourhood. It will create an area of green space along the western boundary, offering better access for visitors to the site, as well as new habitats for wildlife. We also want to make improvements such as planting areas of woodland and hedgerows, protecting the ancient monument of Castle Hill and installing a network of footpaths around the site.

In the autumn of 2020 we carried out a public consultation to find out your views on our proposals. Findings from this are given in the report below.  We have used information from this consultation to improve designs for the scheme.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing.Please download the PDF.


Birch woodland in autumn: Castlehill could look like this


The vast majority of funding for this project comes from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Significant additional funding has also come from:

  • Hull and East Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund Programme
  • National Highways Environmental Designated Fund
  • Hull City Council
  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council
  • Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee


Give Us Your Views

We are seeking your views on the Castlehill Aquagreen proposals. The consultation runs from 24 August 2020 until 28 September 2020. Click on the link to access details of the proposals and to respond to the consultation on-line:


The survey will also be posted to local residents, with a response form to complete for those who do not want to do this on-line.

If you have not received a postal survey and would like one you can contact us on the email below to request one:



  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils


  • Flood management