PLANS to upgrade flood defences at Clifton Ings are set to be approved at a planning meeting - despite fears over the impact on wildlife in the area.

The Environment Agency wants to raise and extend the flood barriers, as well as installing a permanent pumping station between the River Ouse and Blue Beck.

The scheme aims to protect 134 homes.

But Clifton Ings and Rawcliffe Meadows is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and lies in the Green Belt.

And some campaigners have objected to the proposals. Organisation Buglife says the work will have a “significant impact” on wildlife habitats and measures to reduce the damage do not go far enough.

Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows also criticised the plans, saying: “It will result in permanent, irreversible loss of and damage to nationally-important SSSI grassland which cannot be adequately mitigated or compensated for.

“The applicant has not demonstrated that the proposed scheme is of national importance. Neither have they shown that equivalent flood alleviation benefits could not be delivered by other means.”

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has also lodged an objection to the scheme.

But a planning report says the Environment Agency will introduce measures to mitigate against any damage caused - including replacing any lost hedgerows or trees with at least an equal number, but ideally triple.

A report prepared for a planning meeting on Thursday recommends the committee approves the scheme. It says: “Approval is recommended because the proposed works will bring significant community benefit, by reducing flood risk to a considerable area.

“The extension of the barrier bank and the pumping station would only have a low adverse impact on the Green Belt, reducing openness.”

“The proposals involve mitigation on site where possible and otherwise compensated for at Rawcliffe Ings. The recommended conditions are as robust as possible in terms of securing compensatory grassland and rehabilitation of areas affected by the proposals.”

The barrier bank was built in 1980

The report adds: “The works are required due to issues with the stability of the existing bank and as part of a wider programme to improve flood defences throughout the city.

“The existing barrier bank requires repair and such works cannot be undertaken without an adverse effect on the SSSI. The flood defence no longer protects the area from the one in 100 year flood.”