Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) - Information Page

Closes 30 Jun 2024

Opened 14 Aug 2020


Welcome to the Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme Information Page.

We have created this page to provide information on the Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS).  This will 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.



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'). 

Together both components of the scheme will reduce the risk of flooding to neighbourhoods on the eastern side of Hull and provide a long term, 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.

Please note that our proposals for an aquagreen at Castlehill are completely separate to the proposals you may have already seen or heard 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 the scheme is needed

The Holderness Drain catchment covers a large area of 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 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. 

Photo of homes flooded in Hull in 2007, 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. Plans for the Holderness Drain scheme were developed as part of a programme of flood alleviation work.

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 into the estuary, 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 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 work out the best approach to solving the problem of flooding in the North Carr and Sutton areas.  We created models of 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 funding to start work on the design of the pumping station at East Hull and an 'aquagreen' (flood storage area) for the Castlehill site. 

2020 - in January we obtained planning consent for a new pumping station in East Hull.  Construction started in May that year and will finish in early 2024.

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

Spring and Summer 2021 – we continued to develop designs for the aquagreen using feedback from the consultation. This led to changes in the earlier scheme proposals, to include additional work on several drains within the scheme boundaries.

2022 - an application for planning consent for the Castlehill Aquagreen was approved in January by both Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council.  Construction started in June and is almost completed, with one piece of outstanding work to be done in spring 2024.

More details about the scheme

East Hull Pumping Station

In May 2020 work started work on the new pumping station in East Hull.  This is 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 very little disturbance and disruption to the public during construction.

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

When finished, the pumping station will operate four new pumps.  These pumps will be activated when heavy rain leads to high water levels in the drain combined with high tides preventing water flowing naturally into the Humber Estuary.  Each one will be capable of pumping at least 2.5 cubic meters of water per second out of the drain into the estuary.

Diagram of the pumping station, seen from the Humber Estuary side, showing the pipes from the four pumps which will take water from the drain on the landward side and pump it into the estuary.

Additional benefits of the scheme

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


January 2024 update

Construction work on the new pumping station structure and flood walls is now completed. Only site finishing works remain to be done.  These include fencing, footpaths and surfacing work along with some river bank reinstatement and planting.

Photo: One of the four new pumps being installed at the pumping station

Whilst the mechanical and electrical works are still underway, we have been able to bring the pumping station into partial operation during the recent storms to help reduce the water levels in the Holderness Drain and so reduce the risk of flooding to properties. We have been operating two of the four pumps on almost every tide during the Christmas period and the new year. This has allowed us to pump 5,000 litres of water per second into the estuary during storms Gerrit and Henk.

Photo: installing the huge tidal doors

Photo: New pumping station with pumps being tested

The new tidal flood doors have been in operation since November and have replaced the old timber doors which were damaged and leaking. The new doors and flood walls now provide an improved protection against tidal flooding and storm surge.

The pumping station will be fully operational by the end of February, providing improved protection against tidal and river flooding along the Holderness Drain.

August 2023 update

Work has been progressing steadily on the pumping station at East Hull which forms the other component of the Holderness Drain Flood Alleviation Scheme. Four new fish friendly pumps have been installed at the new Holderness Drain Outfall Pumping Station (formerly called East Hull Pumping Station).  These will help protect fish and eels in the water course, ensuring that they aren’t harmed when the pumps operate. When the tidal flood gates are closed at each high tide, the pumps are capable of moving up to 10 cubic meters of water per second from the drain into the Humber when the tidal flood gates are closed at each high tide.

Photo of the new pumping station, looking down towards the gates and the estuary

In addition to the pumps, our contractors are in the process of installing an automated cleaning system for the weed screens to protect the pumps from blockages. They are also installing new flood gates to replace the existing old timber ones at the mouth of the drain.

Once the cofferdam (the structure which allows water to pass by the pumping station whilst it’s being built) has been removed this autumn, water in the drain will start to flow through the new pumping station structure. We can then test the new equipment and fine tune the pumping station.  It should become fully operational this winter.

April 2023 update

Construction of the reinforced concrete structure of the pumping station is finally completed and work has started on installing the metalwork flooring, stairs and handrails. We have also made a start on the installation of a new penstock which will be followed by flood gates, pumps and pipework in May through to July. Once a power supply is available we will test all the new equipment and the pumping station should be operational in time for this winter.

Photo: work continues on the pumping station; metal work beign installed on the concrete frame. 

November 2022 Update

Our contractors have been making steady progress with this scheme.

Throughout the summer and autumn months, work has continued on building the basic frame of the pumping station. Now that the base of the structure that will straddle the drain is laid, the next stage has been to start building up the concrete walls on either side to the level of the flood defence.

Photo: Progress with construction of the pumping station walls in October 2022

After the problems experienced at the end of 2021 with obstacles blocking the tidal doors to the estuary, at the mouth of the drain, divers have been brought in to carry out monthly inspections of these doors.  As part of the scheme, the old wooden doors will be replaced with brand new metal ones, which will be built into the new pumping station structure.  This then becomes the new line of flood defence and will provide more secure and reliable flood protection at this location.

Photo: Divers in the drain, carryong out a monthly inspection of the old tidal doors

The concreting works to the pumping station should be complete in January 2023 and then the next stage will see the installation of metal floors, stairs and railings and the start of fitting pumps and pipework in early spring along with new tidal flood doors. The mechanical and electrical works should be completed and the pumps operational by June.

We currently expect the scheme to be finished by the end of June/early July 2023.


August 2022 Update

Since December’s update, we have completed the foundations for the pumping station and the base slab of the main structure. Our contractors have passed the halfway mark on constructing the reinforced concrete walls of the pumping station, with the ground floor walls completed.  The working area is now covered in scaffolding to give access for staff to fix the steel reinforcement and shutters, which will extend the walls to their final finished level.

Photo: Construction staff using a concrete pump to pour the last section of the ground floor walls of the pumping station

Elsewhere on site the Motor Control Centre building is finished along with the Switch Gear building and the power supply ducting.

The major items of mechanical equipment (the pumps, flood gates, penstocks and pipework) have been manufactured and are ready for installation once work on the reinforced concrete walls is finished.

Photo: view of the pumping station under construction, looking north.

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.

Photo: The shoring frame used to build teh foundations of the pumping station

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.

Photo: Aerial view of the pumping station base

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.

Photos above: excavation of the bypass flume channel
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.

Photo: Metal sheet piling installed to create the flume channel

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.



Castlehill Aquagreen

In June 2022 work started to create an aquagreen (a flood storage area) at Castlehill.  This will reduce flood risk for residents in the Sutton and North Carr wards in Hull. It is located 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.   

Map: Site of the proposed aquagreen with boundaries marked 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 this scheme will be completed in the autumn of 2023.  Some further landscaping work will be carreid out across the site after this date.  

What’s being built

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.

These interventions will improve the existing network of drains on the Castlehill site and provide a more consistent level of protection against flooding in the area.

The changes made to the original design mean that we don’t need to dig a new drain across the site 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  is considerably shorter than for the original scheme.

Benefits of the scheme

In addition to the primary aim of reducing flood risk, the Castlehill Aquagreen will bring  environmental and social benefits to the neighbourhood. It will offer an area of 'wilder' green space along the western boundary, creating new habitats for wildlife by planting woodland and hedgerows. In addition we want to improve access for visitors to the site. We will install interpretation boards and create a network of footpaths across the site.   We will also install barriers to protect the ancient monument of Castle Hill and discourage motorbike access.

Whilst developing our designs, we carried out a public consultation on our proposals and used information gained from this to improve the scheme. You can read the findings from this in the report below. 

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


Birch woodland in autumn: Castlehill could look like this

January 2024

Our contractor, JBA Bentley, finished all engineering work on the Castlehill Aquagreen and demobilised from site before the end of December 2023. Unfortunately, poor ground conditions due to the recent wet weather (Storms Babet and Ciaran) has resulted in the contractor having to postpone the planned reinstatement works (removing the hard surface and replacing the topsoil) to the compound area and installation of a second barn owl box.

Photo: New fencing and 'kissing' gate installed along Castlehill Road, as part of the planned improvements to public access on the site.

Photo: Resting boulder with carved impression of the castle from the Castlehill monument.  There are several of these on the site, improving access for anyone needing to stop and rest whilst visiting the site.

In September three new interpretation boards were installed on the site.  One has a map and welcomes visitors to the site whilst the second explains what wildlife visitors to the site might see.  The third tells the history of the site and includes artwork from pupils at Biggin Hill Primary School and a three dimensional visualisation of how the 'castle' might have looked in the Middle Ages, developed by archaeology student Benedict Dyson. 

Photo: Benedict Dyson, from York University, beside the new interpretation board for the Castlehill monument.

At present the compound is fenced off (and signage stating ‘Keep Out’ installed) to prevent access to this area. This will remain in place until the contractor returns to site in the spring of 2024 to finalise and complete these reinstatement works. In the meantime, there will be some more landscaping and tree/hedgerow planting carried out over the winter season.

Photo: Sheet piling and rock armour at the site of the Sutton Cross Drain realignment

May 2023

As weather and ground conditions have improved, our contractors, JBA Bentley have returned to the site to resume working on the aquagreen.   In June they will be carrying out work along sections of the Suttoncross and East Carr drains.  Any residents whose gardens border the working area will be contacted by a JBA Bentley representative to discuss how the work can be done to minimise any impacts from this.

March 2023 Update

Our contractors, JBA Bentley, are preparing to return to the site when the ground conditions are dry enough for work to restart on building the scheme.  This is weather dependent but will probably happen in April.

In January, Environment Agency staff went to Biggin Hill Primary School to run an art competition; we asked Year Three pupils to draw a picture of the castle at Castlehill, as it might have looked. The winning entries will be used on the information boards we are designing for the site.

In February we organised some tree planting days for volunteers. We would like to thank all local residents and members of the 'Welcome to English' group who gave their time and joined us to plant over 2500 tree seedlings.  Once they grow and mature, these trees will provide space for nature to flourish on the aquagreen, encouraging  a range of birds, insects and animals to make use of it .

Volunteers and staff at one of our tree planting days in February 2023.

Local resident and one of the volunteers, Charlie, wrote a description of the day:

 Having recently moved to the area, I became aware of the Flood Alleviation Scheme/Castlehill Aquagreen via the Environment Agency newsletters we receive as part of the planning and ongoing works near our house. We receive regular updates on the progress of the scheme and eagerly await its completion, as it has a direct benefit to us and our immediate surroundings – the environmental benefit of reducing the flood risk and creating new habitats for wildlife, and also the social benefit of improved green space for leisure use.

When a recent newsletter called for volunteers to take part in tree planting in the area, I was more than happy to oblige – and rope in some friends to help on the day too! Luckily, the weather was on our side (though the ground was a little hard going!) and a lovely day was had, planting alongside neighbours and other members of the community!

I look forward to enjoying the view out of our back window, watching the result of our efforts grow and thrive!


November 2022 Update

Fine weather over the summer months enabled our contractors, JBA Bentley, to make good progress with this scheme.

Work started this summer to raise the height of the embankment along Holderness Drain.  This will remove low spots where water can escape from the drain during flood conditions.  This will be finished in early 2023.

The material used to build up the embankment has been taken from the northern edge of the site, so avoiding the environmental impacts of having to bring in material in lorries from outside the area. This has resulted in the creation of a ‘scrape’ (a shallow depression) at the northern end of the site. Once construction ends, this feature will remain and may hold some standing water at certain times of the year but it is not intended to be a pond. It will, however, provide habitats for wildlife that prefer wetter conditions.  In the spring we intend to sow a grass mixture in the scrape that includes wetland plant species.

In the western part of the site (the areas highlighted in green within the map shown at the top of the Castlehill section) a wildflower seed mix has been sown to create an area of grassland.  This should germinate in the spring of 2023.

Investigations are continuing into the method of piling to be used along East Carr Drain to ensure that disruption to nearby properties can be kept to a minimum.  Work on this will start in early 2023.

The existing Sutton Cross drain has been realigned (moved further into the site) and is nearing completion.

Photo: Excavation of the realigned section of Sutton Cross Drain (moved eastwards) on the right hand side of the photo


Help us create new habitats on this site: volunteers needed

In early 2023, we would like to invite local residents and local community groups to take part in some tree planting days on the site.  If you are interested in getting involved in this, please email  HoldernessdrainFAS@environment-agency.gov.uk  We will provide more information about this in the New Year.


July 2022 Update

We obtained planning consent for Castlehill Aquagreen from both Hull City Council (HCC) and East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) in January 2022. Planning conditions have since been discharged.

Before carrying out some vegetation clearance along the edge of Sutton Cross Drain, we sent letters to affected residents and Notice of Entry letters were sent to landowners. This work was carried out at the end of February 2022.

At the end of March we set up a stall at the Neighbourhood Network’s West Carr Fun Day  held at the Bransholme Methodist Church. About 30 residents came to our stall to meet the project team and contractors, and discuss details of the scheme.

In May we sent our fifth newsletter to local residents to make them aware of work (pre-construction surveys) starting on site. This also provided contact details of the JBAB site manager and the project’s email address.

The construction site was set up in mid June, with scheme boards and fencing erected. This also included a metal ‘overbridge’ structure allowing heavy vehicles access to the construction site, site cabins and welfare facilities for staff working there, a generator, and secure storage space.

Photo: the metal overbridge from Castlehill Road leading onto the site

Photo: Site cabins in place providing facilities for construction staff

The first stage of construction has been to strip topsoil from an area at the north west end of the site, to provide material to fill in low spots along the borders of Holderness Drain.  This will create a consistent level of flood defences along the edge of the drain. 

Photo: topping up the low spots along Holderness Drain



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
  • Specific projects, issues, or activity pages