EIGHT powerful new pumps are to be installed at York's Foss Barrier as part of a £13 million project to prevent a repeat of the devastating Boxing Day floods.

A new control room will also be built by the Environment Agency on top of an existing plant building to ensure it can't again be inundated.

As climate change threatens ever greater flooding problems throughout the 21st century, experts are also considering a range of measures to boost flood warnings for people living alongside the River Foss and the Ouse - including the possibility of flood sirens as well as greater use of social media and flood wardens.

The agency yesterday revealed details to The Press of its plans to upgrade the barrier and pumping station, which was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of floodwater coming down the Foss after heavy and persistent rain on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The existing eight pumps could pump out 30 tonnes - or 30 cubic metres - of water per second from the Foss into the Ouse, but an estimated 35 tonnes per second was entering the station from the Foss following unprecedented rainfall in the catchment.

The old pumps will be replaced by new ones which the agency aims to be about 30 per cent more powerful, enabling them to pump a total of 40 tonnes of water or more per second, said flood defence engineer Tony Andryszewski, who is in charge of the project.

He said this should be sufficient to deal with even heavier rainfall in the Foss catchment which might happen through climate change in coming decades, although he stressed that the agency could never guarantee the river would not flood.

Floodwaters entered the control room on Boxing Day, prompting a decision to raise the barrier, and hundreds of properties along the Foss and its tributaries, in areas such as Huntington Road and Tang Hall, were flooded - although the agency said many more would have been flooded had the barrier not been raised.

An inquiry is still ongoing into how the room was flooded when it had watertight doors but Mr Andryszeski said it had been decided to build a new level on the roof to take it above flood height.

He said the 20-month project would involve more than 100 staff and contractors on site at any one time. "The primary priority throughout will be to ensure that the barrier and pumping station continues to work to full capacity at all stages," he said.

He said it would take place in three phases - the first phase being the construction in April - subject to planning permission - of a large concrete platform alongside a flood wall on the edge of the St George's Field Car Park, on which a temporary control room would be built. Another temporary platform would be built with scaffolding in the Foss on which temporary pumps would be installed.

The second phase would be the installation of the new pumps, which should be completed by September. The third phase would be the construction of the new control room, and an upgrade of the site's power supply, which should be completed by November next year.

Mr Andryszeski said he would speak about the plans, and take questions from residents, at a public meeting being organised at 6.30pm this evening at the Priory Street Centre by York Central MP Rachael Maskell.