York Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) Information page

Closes 31 Dec 2021

Opened 30 Apr 2018


The York Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) is funded by the UK Government with the aim of reducing the risk of flooding to homes and businesses in York. We have created this page to provide easy access to information on the scheme. We will be updating it as we progress individual projects within the scheme so please keep checking for what’s new.

Up-to-date information about road and footpath closures and upcoming events are also available on our Facebook (@YorkFAS) and Twitter (@EnvAgencyYNE) pages.

We issue quarterly city-wide newsletter which highlights our recent progress and any upcoming public engagement events. To request this newsletter in an accessible format, or to be added to the mailing list for this newsletter, please email us.


More Information

As an organisation we are doing everything we can to support our community, our government and the NHS by abiding by the measures set by the Government during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our priority in these difficult times is the health, safety and wellbeing of residents and staff. As a result of this we will be:

⦁    cancelling all public meetings;

⦁    closing the Community Flood Hub on Wellington Row;

until it is safe to open them again. 

As a team we have been through a period of readjustment to widespread home working, and we have put systems in place to support this. We will continue to monitor the York Flood Plan mailbox and respond to correspondence where possible. However, you will appreciate that working from home has its challenges, and that it will have an unavoidable impact on staff resource. Please accept our assurance that we are doing all we can to ensure work continues as much as is possible, and that delays caused by the knock-on effects of this pandemic are kept to an absolute minimum. 

During this time, we recommend that anyone interested in the scheme sign up to our email mailing list. You can do this by sending your name and details of the areas you're interested in to yorkfloodplan@environment-agency.gov.uk.

Background to the York Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS)

Situated on low-lying land where the River Foss joins the River Ouse, the city of York has always been prone to flooding. In recent years, however, the onset of climate change  along with changes in the way land is managed upstream have caused these floods to become more severe. This was evident in December 2015, when we experienced the wettest calendar month since records began and over 620 homes and many businesses in York were flooded.

Flooding in York city centre

After this traumatic event, the government allocated an additional £45 million to the Environment Agency to better protect 2,000 homes from flooding within the city’s administrative boundaries. This funding is in addition to the £38 million investment made to refurbish and upgrade the Foss Barrier.

Existing flood defenses for York have been built over many years and no longer provide the level of protection needed to deal with increased volumes of water. With this additional funding, the York FAS can make improvements to reduce the risk of flooding for many residents and businesses in York.  However, we must recognize that flooding is a natural phenomenon that cannot always be prevented and that the funding granted to us will not stop flooding in all parts of the city.  We cannot keep building ever higher walls to keep the water out.  Instead what we must do is manage water better by building flood defenses where they are most effective and find ways to alleviate the impact of flooding where it is not possible to build these ‘hard’ defenses.  We must also look at the river catchment (the area from which a river draws its water supply) as a whole to find new ways to store water upstream, lowering peak flows during flood events and so reducing the impact of flooding on the city.  The York Flood Alleviation Scheme seeks to do all of these.

How we develop flood risk schemes in York

In those parts of the city seriously affected by flooding, we are working hard to identify solutions that are environmentally and socially acceptable as well as being technically feasible and affordable.  Currently we are carrying out work in 18 flood cells (individual catchments). Each flood cell that we work in has its own characteristics and complexities; there are often many factors to consider that influence or constrain the choice of solution.

The map below shows all 18 flood cells where we are working with City of York Council to determine the best way to deal with flooding.

A map showing the York Flood Alleviation Scheme flood cells

View a larger version of this map

More Information

The North Street flood defences in action during the February 2020 flooding
This flood cell is situated between Scarborough Bridge and Ouse Bridge on the right bank of the River Ouse. Historically, water from the River Ouse has flooded North Street and adjacent properties.  The area is mostly occupied by businesses, and forms part of the main north-south cycle route through the centre of York.

We first built flood defences on North Street in the early 1990s. These came close to being overtopped in the 2000 and 2015 floods. As part of the York 5 Year Plan, we have improved these defences to make them more resilient to climate changes. We have:

  • Raised the flood wall and gates on North Street by around 30 centimetres;
  • Built a new flood wall and embankment between War Memorial Gardens and Leeman Road;
  • Widened the flood gate at the upper end of North Street Gardens to improve access to the riverside;
  • Waterproofed the car park under the Park Inn and our Community Flood Hub building.

We have been working towards replacing the Lendal Bridge flood gate later this year, but due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on our manufacturing and approvals processes, we need to move installation to spring/summer 2021.

Once finished, these defences will protect around 40 homes and businesses from flooding.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

Skeldergate during the February 2020 floods

This flood cell is situated between Ouse Bridge and Skeldergate Bridge on the right bank of the River Ouse. During a flood, Skeldergate can become submerged and there is a risk that properties on either side could be flooded.

There are no formal flood defences in this area. Many of the properties here are designed to cope with flooding on the ground floor, or have already installed Property Flood Resilience (PFR) Measures.

Our final Options Appraisal Report has identified PFR as the most suitable option for this area. For a variety of complicated reasons, we are not able to build ‘hard’ defenses (flood walls) in this location.

Later this year we will be in touch with all eligible homeowners in this area to offer a free PFR survey. The survey is to assess the suitability of the property for PFR and what measures would be most effective. Should the homeowner wish to proceed, we are offering to fit up to £7,500 worth of adaptations in their property free of charge, and they will be invited to meet the contractors and see these products for themselves.

Please see the section on PFR at the bottom of this page for details of our criteria for eligibility to the scheme and available funding.

In May, we published a Skeldergate newsletter explaining what the PFR scheme is, including the 10 steps in the PFR process. 

On 18 June, we hosted a virtual public meeting on Zoom to share our plans with residents in the Skeldergate area, and give them the opportunity to ask questions. Access a summary and Q&A from this event, or view a recording of the meeting on our YouTube channel.

If you cannot access these documents, you can request them in another format by emailing us at yorkfloodplan@environment-agency.gov.uk.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

View of King's Staith from Ouse Bridge

This flood cell is situated between Ouse Bridge and Skeldergate Bridge on the left bank of the River Ouse. This is one of the first areas in the city to flood. There are no formal flood defences in this area but some properties have already installed Property Flood Resilience (PFR) measures.

Businesses here, such as the riverside pubs, depend on views and access to the river so building high flood defence walls would not be appropriate. So it is not possible for us to provide the same level of protection against flooding at King’s Staith as elsewhere in the city.

We are currently assessing whether the PFR measures we can offer would better protect properties in this area from flooding. 

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

View of Terry Avenue in Clementhorpe

This flood cell is situated between Skeldergate Bridge and Rowntree Park on the right bank of the River Ouse. It includes a number of riverside flats which are at risk of flooding. These overlook Terry Avenue, which forms a popular route for cyclists, pedestrians and those accessing the Caravan Club site, Roomzzz Hotel and Rowntree Park. These three amenities are located within a designated floodplain and so under normal circumstances will flood. The only formal flood defence here is the flood wall at the end of Lower Darnborough Street. However, there are still properties at risk of flooding that can benefit from government funding for a scheme.

To reduce this risk to properties in this area we are proposing to:

  • Raise the corners of the existing boundary walls at Postern Close and install new flood defences between Postern Close and Postern House; 
  • Install a new flood gate on Clementhorpe, at the junction with Terry Avenue; 
  • Construct a flood wall in front of Waterfront House; 
  • Install a new flood wall and raise the road level at Dukes Wharf; 
  • Construct a new flood wall to link into the newly improved defences, completed by Roomzzz Hotel, on Lower Ebor Street; 
  • Raise the height of the existing flood defence walls and construct an earth embankment on the boundary of Rowntree Caravan Park; 
  • Construct an embankment and short wall along the boundary of Rowntree Park to link into high ground. 

Our planning application was approved by City of York Council’s planning committee at an online meeting on 11 June. Construction is due to begin in January 2021 and take up to 18 months to complete. In the interest of public safety, during construction, we will be closing a section of Terry Avenue between Skeldergate Bridge and Duke’s Wharf to the public for up to 12 months.

When this work is completed, it will better protect 135 homes from flooding.

Our latest Clementhorpe newsletter was published in September. This summarises what we did in August and early September and what we planned to do in the rest of September, as well as information about our online public event on 29 September. In this meeting we provided details of the impact that construction will have on the community. You can access a summary and Q&A from this event, or view a recording on our YouTube channel. 

If you cannot access any of these documents, you can request a copy in another format by emailing us at yorkfloodplan@environment-agency.gov.uk.

 Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

This area forms the southern portion of Clementhorpe where there are no formal flood defences.

Following our thorough appraisal of the options available, we have decided to include South Bank in our Property Flood Resilience (PFR) scheme. We are offering to fit adaptations up to £7,500 per property, free of charge, to 50 properties at risk of flooding in the area. We have appointed our contractors JBA to carry out initial free surveys of individual homes. We are also working with City of York Council (CYC) and the ward councillors to increase understanding of the benefits of PFR and encourage residents to take up our offer of a free survey for eligible properties.

Please see the section on PFR at the bottom of this page for details of our criteria for eligibility to the scheme and available funding.

More Information

The cycle/pedestrian path which runs the length of New Walk

This area includes New Walk, part of the Fulford Ings and the northern end of the village of Fulford. The riverside path in this flood cell floods frequently, with flood water spreading beyond the path during more extreme events. 

There are no formal flood defences in this area, although there are retaining walls in some locations that may act as informal defences. Property Flood Resilence (PFR) has been determined as the most viable option to better protect properties in this flood cell. The offer of PFR has been extended to 55 properties.

55 individual property surveys for PFR have been completed and are being assessed. Unfortunately, this work has been subjected to a number of unforeseeable delays due to Covid-19. We are currently working with our contractors to progress as much as is possible whilst Covid-19 restrictions are in place. We want to start work installing PFR measures as soon as it is deemed safe to do so whilst adhering to government guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Please see the section on PFR at the bottom of this page for details of our criteria for eligibility to the scheme and available funding.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

A birds-eye view of Clifton Ings during the September 2012 flooding

This flood cell is located between the Outer Ring Road and Clifton Bridge on the left bank of the River Ouse.  It is largely residential but includes an area of green space that is very well used and much loved by both residents and visitors.

The area contains a flood storage area, Clifton Ings, which is used to store water during a flood. When the Ings is full, the embankment known as Clifton Ings Barrier Bank protects properties from flooding.  This needs to be raised and extended to increase the standard of protection it provides.  In 2019 we were granted planning permission to:

  • Raise the barrier bank and extend its footprint to maintain the bank’s stability;
  • Extend the barrier bank at the northern end into Rawcliffe Country Park and at the southern end into Homestead Park;
  • Install a new pumping station where Blue Beck meets the barrier bank, to pump water from the beck into the Ings when it is full;

When this scheme is completed, it will better protect around 140 homes from flooding.

We had planned to start work in the autumn of 2020 but, due to unforeseen delays in the process of agreeing a contract with our suppliers. Subject to agreeing contracts with our suppliers,  it is now likely that we will start work in early 2021. During this time, access to Rawcliffe Meadows will be restricted to meet Health and Safety requirements and some footpaths will be closed intermittently. We will update this webpage to provide more detailed information about path closures on a regular basis.

The Sustrans cycle route will be diverted onto the Ings and will remain open for the duration of the work. The intention is that the diverted route becomes the permanent route once the scheme is completed. 

We will ensure that any of the rare meadow grassland habitat damaged as a result of the work we intend to do on Rawcliffe Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is compensated for.  We are planning to translocate (move) some of the grassland to another nearby site and will plant new areas of grassland to replace those lost. You can find our plans to protect wildlife and plants in the area on the City of York Council’s planning portal.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

Visualisation of the glass panels being used to raise the flood defence height at Almery Terrace

This flood cell is situated between Clifton Bridge and Scarborough Bridge on the left bank of the River Ouse. Historically, water from the River Ouse has flooded properties on Almery, Sycamore and Longfield Terraces.

The existing flood embankment in St Peter’s School fields and the flood walls and the gates along Almery Terrace were first built in the early 1980s. In 2000 and 2015 they came close to being overtopped by flood water.

Last summer, we started work on raising and extending the flood embankment in St Peter’s School Fields. This summer, we plan to:

  • Install taller gates and glass panels on top of the flood walls in the gardens of properties in Almery Terrace;
  • Complete the work of raising and extending the embankment in St Peter’s School fields;
  • Build a connecting wall between the embankment and the flood wall on the development site at the end of Almery Terrace;
  • Raise the steps beside Almery Terrace and provide flood protection for the Network Rail embankment.

To finish building the flood defences, we have put some path closures in place. We will close the riverside path directly in front of Almery Terrace whilst we install flood gates and panels in the front gardens of houses along this route. The path will be closed intermittently between 8am and 5pm, from 26 October to 18 December. This closure will not be required every day and we will update signage on site to keep everyone informed.  

When this work is completed, over 150 properties in this area will be better protected from flooding.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

The flood embankment next to the Hospitium in Museum Gardens

This flood cell is situated between Scarborough Bridge and Ouse Bridge on the right bank of the River Ouse.

Flood defences were first built in this area of the city in the early 1990s. These include a flood wall and flood gates along Earlsborough Terrace, the Marygate flood wall and retractable gate and the flood embankment in Museum Gardens. These defences came close to being overtopped in 2000 and 2015. We are proposing to raise these defences by around half a metre to better protect the 57 properties at flood risk in this area. 

In summer 2021, we plan to:

  • Raising the flood walls and gates along Earlsborough Terrace with glass panels. 
  • Raising the Marygate flood wall with bricks and installing demountable panels on top of the Marygate flood gate. When the river is not flooded, these panels will be stored in a box attached to the dry side of the flood wall.
  • Raising and extending the flood embankment in Museum Gardens.

When we raise the height of, and extend the length, of the flood embankment in Museum Gardens, we will need to widen its ‘footprint’ (the area it occupies on the ground) to maintain its stability. To make space for this, we will need to remove some trees and vegetation in the park. We have worked closely with York Museums Trust to come up with a design which reduces the number of trees which need to be felled, and mitigates for their loss using the approach outlined in our Tree Strategy, listed at the bottom of this page. Following construction the area will be replanted according to a new landscape plan approved by York Museums Trust.

Whilst the majority of this scheme will be done under permitted development, we have submitted a planning application for the embankment raising in Museum Gardens to City of York Council, which is now available to view and comment on their planning portal, under the reference 20/1874/FU.

On 22 July, we hosted a virtual public meeting on Zoom to share our revised plans to improve the flood defences between Scarborough Bridge and Lendal Bridge to better protect properties in the Marygate area from flooding. Access an event summary and Q&A from this event, or view a recording of the meeting on our YouTube channel.We plan to start work in this flood cell in Spring 2021, with work in Museum Gardens starting in August 2021.

If you would like a copy of our Frequently Asked Questions, our Supporting Information Pack or any documents in a different format please email us.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox.

More Information

The nature reserve St Nick's

These flood cells are located on the east side of the city in the residential areas of Tang Hall, Osbaldwick and Heworth. 

The main source of flooding here are Tang Hall and Osbaldwick becks, which converge at St Nick’s Nature Reserve and flow through an underground pipe - known as a culvert- into the River Foss. During a flood, water can ‘back up’ and accumulate at the point where the culvert goes under the nature reserve, causing flooding upstream.

We are working with St Nick’s Environment Centre to come up with a solution to this problem. We are looking at whether it would be feasible to remove the culverts and create a new open channel through the nature reserve instead.  This would reduce the risk of flooding to 263 local properties and create new wetland habitats within the nature reserve.  We will be also be offering PFR to properties in this area who do not directly benefit from the Scheme.

Please see the section on PFR at the bottom of this page for details of our criteria for eligibility to the scheme and available funding.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

Diagram showing how the Foss Storage Area will work

Click here to view an enlarged version of this image.

These flood cells cover a section of the River Foss, extending south from Strensall village to the York inner ring road. This is largely a residential area, with many of the houses which back onto the River Foss at risk of flooding.

This area does not benefit from the flood protection provided by the Foss Barrier.  The barrier only reduces flood risk to properties lower downstream by preventing the River Ouse from backing up into the River Foss. It does not stop water in the Foss higher upstream causing flooding.

We are proposing to build a flood storage area north-east of Strensall.  This consists of an embankment which will hold and store water during a flood and so reduce the volume of water in the river during the peak of a flood.  The storage area structure will be built to the same safety standards as a reservoir but will remain empty for the majority of the time, even though it will not hold water permanently. 

The embankment will be built across the River Foss on farm land above Strensall, with a specially designed exit for the river to flow through it unimpeded under ordinary conditions. When water levels start to rise during a flood, the exit will limit the amount of water which can flow through at any one time, causing the storage area to fill. This will reduce the peak flow of water downstream. When water levels in the river fall again, the storage area will slowly empty. We anticipate that the flood storage area will partially fill approximately every five years and only fill completely in extreme weather conditions.  When the site is not being used to store water, the farm land can be cropped as normal.

This project will deliver a number of environment benefits, including wetland habitat creation, tree planting and improvements to the river bank.

We have submitted a planning application for this scheme to City of York Council and Ryedale District Council. We are awaiting a decision from both local authorities on this; due to disruption caused by the Covid 19 virus, planning committee meetings to consider this scheme have been postponed.

Once built, the Foss Flood Storage Area will better protect around 490 properties in York and Strensall.

More Information

This flood cell spans the stretch of Westfield Beck from Wigginton to New Earswick. 

We are using information from Yorkshire Water to assess the causes of flooding in this area. At the request of City of York Council, we are including surface water flooding in our mapping of flood risk in this area and will be working closely with them to find the best solution to deal with flooding in this flood cell.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

Visualisation showing the proposed flood wall and gate on Chantry Lane

View an enlarged version of this image.

This flood cell is located south of the city centre on the right bank of the River Ouse. During a flood, water from the River Ouse flows onto Chantry Lane via a woodland area known as The Dell, and then floods Main Street.

There are no existing flood defences in this flood cell.

We are planning to install a short flood wall at the end of Chantry Lane, with a wide flood gate across the entrance to St Andrew’s Church. Following communication with local residents and local organisations, we have made sure that the proposed designs do not damage the heritage features in the church grounds.

City of York Council have approved our planning application and we are working with them to discharge the planning conditions they have set. We are planning to host an online public meeting within the next few weeks, to provide the community with an opportunity to ask questions about the scheme. To inform the focus of the meeting, we would like you to tell us how much you know about the scheme already, and what you would like to know more about, by filling in this short survey.

This scheme will reduce the risk of flooding to 115 properties in Bishopthorpe.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

This area is located on the right bank of the River Ouse between Naburn Bridge in the North and Intake Lane in the south. There are no formal flood defences in this area. We have determined that PFR is the most suitable option for properties in Acaster Malbis. We are offering a free PFR survey to eligible properties at risk of flooding.

We have also updated our Flood Warning for Acaster Malbis, making the warning more relevant and accessible to residents. We have been engaging with the community to inform them of these changes and support them in their efforts to increase their resilience to flooding.

Please see the section on PFR at the bottom of this page for details of our criteria for eligibility to the scheme and available funding.

More Information

This flood cell is located on the left bank of the River Ouse with Naburn Sewerage Works to the North and Naburn Grange to the south. It extends east to encompass the lower reaches of Howden Dyke. There are no existing formal flood defences within the village of Naburn. PFR has been identified as the preferred option for properties in Naburn. We are offering a free PFR survey to eligible properties at risk of flooding.

We have also updated our flood warnings for the village. The Naburn flood warning area has been separated from Acaster Malbis so it is more specific to that community. Since 27th May 2019, we have installed two warnings for Naburn; the first is based on a new trigger level for road access and will warn of road closure, as we are aware that the village is completely cut off to vehicles due to flooding, before properties start to flood. The second will provide a property flood warning and is triggered at a higher flood level. We normally only issue warnings for property flooding – an access warning is almost unique, with only one other community in Yorkshire receiving one.

Please see the section on PFR at the bottom of this page for details of our criteria for eligibility to the scheme and available funding.

Sign up to receive project updates straight to your inbox

More Information

Arial view of the Foss barrier site before the updgrade

The Foss Barrier and Pumping Station is situated at the confluence of the River Ouse and the River Foss in the centre of York.  The barrier was built following major flooding in York in 1982 and was first operated in 1987. The barrier reduces flood risk to properties along the Foss by preventing the Ouse, a much larger watercourse, ‘backing up’ and so raising river levels in the Foss during flood events. When water levels in the Ouse are higher than the Foss, the barrier is closed and water in the Foss is pumped around the barrier into the Ouse.

Since 1987 the Foss Barrier and Pumping Station have been operated successfully many thousand times, protecting hundreds of properties from flooding in York.

Winter flooding in 2015

On Boxing Day 2015, when the barrier was closed, the volume of water travelling down the River Foss was so great that the pumps were overwhelmed. This resulted in unprecedented water levels on the Foss. The decision was made to open the barrier which equalised levels either side of the barrier, thereby reducing water levels in the Foss and reducing the impact of the flooding. This decision not only reduced the overall extent of flooding but also allowed more time to warn and evacuate residents.

Foss Barrier upgrade

Visualisation of the Foss Barrier pumping station once complete

Since the Boxing Day flood in 2015, we have greatly increased the pumping capacity of the pumps at the barrier, installed new infrastructure to support the pumps and new power supplies. All this has been achieved whilst ensuring the station remains fully operational throughout.

Our contractors are still on site at the Foss Barrier. They will install a new taller barrier gate in this autumn/winter, and will finish work on site in the new year.

More Information

In some of the flood cells in York, it is not feasible for us to build flood defences. As an alternative in these areas, we are offering Property Flood Resilience (PFR) as a way of reducing flood risk. These are bespoke measures such as flood doors, temporary barriers, pumps and valves, which reduce the chance of flood water getting into a property.

Infographic showing examples of property flood resilience measures

View an enlarged version of this image.

A property is eligible for our PFR scheme if:

  • It is situated within a flood risk area and the property thresholds are lower than the predicted water level during extreme flood events and where the property doesn’t benefit from a formal flood defence such as a flood wall;
  • Has previously suffered from river flooding;
  • Has adjoining eligible properties.

We are offering PFR according to principles defined nationally, following government rules on funding. Under this scheme, we are able to offer a free survey to eligible properties to assess their suitability for PFR and what measures can be recommended to reduce the likelihood of floodwater entering them. If homeowners wish to proceed, we can install adaptations costing up to £7,500 per property free of charge to the property owner.


To find out more about PFR products available, visit The Blue Pages, the UK's leading independent directory of PFR measures.

More Information

Records show that on average, the peak river level in the centre of York has been increasing annually over the last century (see figure 1). This increase means that the level of protection offered by York’s flood defences is falling over time. With current patterns of land use and climate change, predictions show that this trend will continue. Unless we can introduce upstream catchment management, it is predicted that in 100 years’ time the flood defences in York will need to be almost a metre higher just to offer the same standard of protection as they do now.
A graph showing the peak river level recordings taken at the Viking Recorder on the  River Ouse between 1885 and 2018. The trend line suggests that river levels are rising by 8mm a year on average.
Figure 1 This graph shows the peak river levels recorded at the Viking Recorder on the River Ouse between 1885 and 2019. The trend line suggests that peak river levels are rising by around 8mm a year on average. View an enlarged version of this graph.

Future options

We can’t keep building our defences higher and higher. In the long term, our options to maintain the standard of protection offered by existing defences, can be split into two broad categories:

Engineered storage areas can hold back and slowly release huge volumes of water. They alter large areas of farmland and in general provide greater benefit the closer they are located to York. We already have a number of storage areas upstream of York, and we will look into how best to optimise their use during floods.

Natural Flood Management is a term that covers a wide range of measures, usually making fairly subtle changes to land management or drainage and small watercourses. Cumulatively these measures can be effective, but they do need to be very numerous and the flood risk benefit of any individual action can be very difficult to quantify.

What happens now?

On the Swale, Ure, Nidd and Ouse we will continue flood modelling programmes to look at how floodplain washland and storage areas are best used. Where we can prove the benefit of particular interventions, we will aim to carry it out using the funding options available to us.

We do not believe that long term planning for the future of the Ouse catchment should be driven purely by flood risk concerns. We are investigating ways of working with partner organisations to develop and deliver a coherent long term strategy for the management of the Ouse catchment which not only reduces flood risk but also enhances the natural environment and biodiversity of the area.  

More Information

Tree strategy

In places where we are constructing flood defences, we often need large amounts of space to build embankments or move heavy machinery around.  Once flood defences are built, we usually need to provide vehicle access for their maintenance or make sure that there are no obstructions that could damage them in the future.  This means that in certain situations we must remove some trees to enable our flood defence work to proceed. We recognise the negative impact this has on the environment and the local community and will mitigate for any loss of trees resulting from our work.  Whilst replanting does not immediately provide the same benefits, in the longer term it will create replacement tree cover which in turn will lead to improvements in the urban environment, making York a better place for people to live and work in.

Our principles

Avoid felling

Where possible, we will adapt the design of each scheme to avoid removing trees or minimise the number which need to be felled.  This will be our first priority.

Replant where we can’t avoid felling

Where removing trees is essential for the completion of our flood defence work and cannot be avoided, we will plant replacements.  For every tree lost as a result of our work, we will plant five new ones.

Plant on site if possible

We will, where possible, plant replacement trees on, or near to, sites where trees have been removed. 

Planting in other locations

Where we cannot replace trees in situ, we will work with City of York Council, the Woodland Trust and other interested organisations to find the best sites for tree planting around the city.

Choice of species

We will aim to replant using native tree species, except in circumstances where ornamental species are recommended, such as in a park.

Multiple benefits

We will choose sites for tree planting that deliver multiple benefits, rather than simply replacing trees felled. These benefits could include maintaining or creating new habitats, linking areas through ecological corridors, and improving the health and wellbeing of local residents.

Our practices

  • Our priority will be to replant on sites where trees have been removed.  Where this is not possible, due to space and suitability constraints, planting will take place in sites agreed with City of York Council.  Where it is possible for our tree planting to contribute to larger projects such as the Northern Forest, we will consider this as well.
  • Each site will be assessed to determine the best species to plant on it.
  • We will purchase planting materials from local nurseries and use local provenances, where possible. We will not import seedlings from abroad.
  • Except in specific situations where larger trees are required, we will plant whips and saplings rather than larger, more mature specimens as these have higher survival rates.
  • We will protect any trees that stand close to our construction sites or routes. We will use specialised protective material to better disperse the weight of passing vehicles over tree roots.  We will also use specialised equipment which is able to delicately expose tree roots so that we can then avoid damaging when installing ‘hard’ flood defences such as piling.
  • We will work with partners to develop longer term management plans for all trees planted to ensure high survival rates.
  • Where we have to remove trees, we will aim to find a sustainable way of disposing of or recycling the timber. 

What we want to achieve from this work

We want to ensure that our tree planting activities achieve greater benefits than just simply replacing what we have felled.  So we will work closely with City of York Council to complement the work they are doing to increase tree cover in and around the city.  We will also make efforts to ensure that our activities enhance national strategies such as the National Pollinator Strategy.

An additional goal is to use our tree planting activities to create new habitats and achieve greater connectivity between existing habitats in and around the city, thus improving opportunities for wildlife populations to move around safely.

Adapting to climate change – how do we maximise that through tree planting?

City of York Council declared a climate emergency in March 2019. They are currently developing a wide range of initiatives and approaches to respond to this. We will work closely with them to ensure our plans harmonise with theirs. 

The Environment Agency and City of York Council have both set ambitions to become carbon neutral by 2030.  In partnership with the council we have identified the importance of increasing tree cover in the city and have committed to new tree planting where possible.

To make best use of the allocated funding, we must go through several stages of development for each scheme.

  1. The first stage is to understand what type of flooding occurs in a specific area (whether it comes from rivers, rainfall or the existing drainage network).  
  2. We then consider all possible options to reduce flood risk and examine them all to find the most appropriate one.
  3. Once this is chosen, we move on to the design stage, looking at all aspects of the design to ensure the chosen option is feasible.
  4. When the design is completed, we often need to obtain planning consent before starting construction. This ensures that we take into account issues ranging from public safety and environmental concerns to the impact of our work on road traffic and pedestrians.

Completing all the different stages of each scheme can be a long process as it takes time to carry out each stage. On average, a scheme should take a minimum of eight years to develop, however we are aiming to deliver some of our schemes in just five.

As the funding we receive to reduce flood risk in York comes from the government, we must follow strict guidelines on how it can be spent.  For every £1 spent in each flood cell, we must ensure that this saves more than £1 in damages.  This standard for Cost Benefit Analysis must be applied to all our work.

We always seek to engage with local communities and organisations during the development of a scheme to ensure that we listen to and learn from their views.  Where possible, we also include features in the design of our schemes that enhance the natural environment or provide other benefits, such as better access or improved facilities.

When designing our schemes, we also take into consideration how the structures we build now can be adapted or raised in the future, to take account of the effects of climate change.  The defenses we are building as part of the York Flood Alleviation Scheme will provide a high standard of protection up to the year 2039.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about the work we are doing to reduce the risk of flooding in York, check out our Facebook page @YorkFAS or sign up to our quarterly newsletter by emailing us at yorkfloodplan@environment-agency.gov.uk

Sign up to our free flood warning service at flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk

Remember that even homes and businesses which receive increased protection are still at risk of flooding. Our free flood warning service provides up-to-date information about flood risk in York straight to your mobile. Sign up to receive flood alerts and flood warnings.

Did you find this Information Page useful?

We are keen to understand whether on-line Information Pages are useful to you, and if this method for keeping you informed is successful.

We very much welcome your feedback on information pages and your feedback will help us to keep improving.

If you would like to give us some feedback please click on the link or download and return the feedback form below.

Give us your feedback


  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • The nuclear industry
  • All water abstractors
  • Environment Agency customers
  • Net fishing license holders
  • River based salmon angling owners/fishing clubs/organisations
  • Individual migratory salmonid licence holders
  • Business that buy salmon/supported by salmon net and rod fishing
  • Angling trade contacts
  • National based fishery, conservation and landowner organisations
  • Government family organisations
  • IDBs
  • Local authorities
  • District and parish councils
  • Environmental bodies
  • Land owners
  • Farming associations
  • Drainage associations
  • RFCCs
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Water companies
  • Members of the public
  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Community groups
  • Flood action groups
  • Metal recycling trade associations and site operators
  • Operators
  • UK Border Force
  • Medium Combustion Plants
  • Environment Agency colleagues


  • Flood management