COUNCILLORS in York are set to lobby the Government for millions of pounds in order to protect the city against flooding.

A notional programme of works, which will cost in excess of £11 million, has been identified by City of York Council in an independent assessment.

But officers fear that the Environment Agency, which is responsible for providing flood protection, will be unable to fund and carry out all the work within a suitable time frame.

The Environment Agency is due to publish its own report in April based on a hydraulic model of the Ouse, which aims to predict flows down through York. Until then, any proposals, apart from essential maintenance, have been put on hold.

Executive members of the council have therefore agreed on a number of measures to try to secure the necessary funds from other sources, enabling extra flood defences to be installed at various locations around the city, including Fulford and Clementhorpe.

These measures include lobbying of the Regional Flood Defence Committee and central government both directly and through local MPs, seeking additional sources of funding to support those already identified and considering the council's representation on the Regional Flood Defence Committee, as a seat is up for renewal on June 1.

Those measures are expected to be formally adopted by the approvals social services committee next Tuesday (January 22).

A report to councillors says: "It is envisaged that funding for most of these schemes would take low priority in the EA's opinion and would not figure in their submission to the Regional Flood Defence Committee in the short term.

"It will therefore require lobbying and exploration of innovative forms of funding if any of these schemes are to come to fruition in the near future."

Ray Chaplin, head of engineering consultancy for the council, said the Environment Agency had previously estimated that work to make York safe from flooding would cost in the region of £11m.

But he said the council's own plan would cost in excess of that sum, therefore requiring some innovative thinking from officers and members.

He said: "It's giving the opportunity to be innovative in seeking funds from places where funds for this sort of work are currently not being raised.

"We don't know how long it will take, or even if it's possible."

He said that if the fundraising is successful, work will involve installing new flood defences in partnership with the Environment Agency.

He said: "This is centred on places we have identified as currently having flooding problems.

"If we can attract money into that area, we will work with the Environment Agency to produce detailed designs."

The approvals social services committee meeting takes on Tuesday at 5pm in the Guildhall.

Updated: 11:28 Thursday, January 17, 2002