The newly upgraded Foss Barrier in York will officially be reopened today (Friday, June 17).

The Environment Agency, which is behind the scheme, says the £38 million project to improve the barrier, combined with completed flood defence work in York, better protects 2,000 properties and makes the city more resilient to the impacts of climate change. 

The Foss Barrier failed during the devastating floods of Boxing Day 2015 - when 627 properties flooded in York.

After the flooding the Government provided £45 million funding towards flood defence work in the city - in addition to £38 million to upgrade the Foss Barrier to provide better flood protection to properties along the Rivers Ouse and Foss.          

Improvement work at the pumping station started in spring 2016.

Now that it is complete, the agency says the Foss Barrier is one of the most resilient flood defences in the country.   

The project milestone is being marked at an event today by the chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd.  

York Press: The floods of 2015The floods of 2015


Ms Boyd said: "York is no stranger to the effects of flooding. The upgraded Foss Barrier and flood defence work across the city will make people and businesses more resilient to future climate impacts.     

"York has always managed to prosper through floods from its great rivers and as climate change makes the rest of the world more vulnerable to flooding, York’s progress is a model.   

"The Environment Agency’s work here continues and with further investments we are upgrading and creating new flood storage areas as well as installing bespoke property level protection to homes and businesses across the city.

"We are also working with partners upstream to find storage capacity and natural flood management opportunities in the Swale, Ure, Nidd and Ouse catchments.”  

York Press: The new bridge is lifted into place above the new Foss Barrier gate Picture: Mike LaycockThe new bridge is lifted into place above the new Foss Barrier gate Picture: Mike Laycock

The Foss Barrier, originally built in 1987, protects properties by stopping flood water from the River Ouse backing up along the River Foss after heavy rainfall.

It continued to protect properties along the Rivers Ouse and Foss from flooding caused by heavy rainfall, until it became overwhelmed by the sheer amount of water in December 2015.

Rebecca Pow, Floods Minister, said: "The completion of upgrades to the Foss Barrier is an important day for the people of York. It’s part of more than £80 million of government funding for flood defences in the city since the devastating floods on Boxing Day 2015, helping to protect 2,000 homes and businesses from the impacts of climate change.

“This is part of significant ongoing investment in flood schemes across Yorkshire and the Humber, with over half a billion pounds invested across the region since 2015 – more than any other part of the country.”

The upgrade includes the installation of eight new high-powered pumps and increasing the pumping capacity from 30 to 50 cubic metres per second. During the 2015 floods 40 cubic metres of water a second was travelling down the Foss.

The old gate has been replaced and the mechanical and electrical equipment has seen improvements to better control the barrier, however the new back-up generators ensure that the pumping station can still operate during a power failure.

With the majority of inner-city work near completion, the agency says attention will now focus on major construction work on flood schemes at Clifton and Rawcliffe and the Foss flood storage area which will hold up to a million cubic metres of water during severe weather and protect a further 630 properties.