FLOOD defence chiefs have approved urgent repairs costing more than £1 million to three damaged defences in Yorkshire.

The decision came as the Environment Agency revealed that walls, embankments, pumping stations and other protective measures prevented an estimated £2 billion of damage to property across Yorkshire in three major floods over the past two years.

The Yorkshire Regional Flood Defence Committee was told that the massive savings were made in November 2000, when 47,000 properties were saved from flooding, in February this year when 6,000 properties were protected and in July/August this year when 14,000 were protected.

The committee was told that defences at three locations in the Selby area were currently suffering problems.

At Cawood, the committee approved an £88,000 project to repair embankments and walls that have suffered settlement, increasing the risk of flooding in the village. The agency said the cost had been brought down from an original estimate of £300,000.

At Goole, members approved a second phase of repairs with steel sheet piling to an embankment alongside the Dutch River, costing a total of £1.2 million. The agency said a 700-metre stretch of defences had already been repaired at a total cost of £2.7 million but now another 300 metres were showing signs of cracks which could deteriorate very quickly. Some of the repair costs would be met by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Associated British Ports, but the agency would still need to pay out £800,000.

At West Haddesley, near Selby, repairs costing between £50,000 and £100,000 were authorised to a 100-metre stretch of flood bank alongside the River Aire that has started cracking and moving.

Agency officers said an area of low-lying land would be flooded if the banks failed.

Meanwhile, the committee raised concerns about the condition of a sea cut, near Scarborough, which helped prevent flooding further down the River Derwent during the storms in July and August.

Members said the cut, which dates back to Victorian times and helps drain excess water from the river out to sea, was equipped with relatively crude and outdated sluices which needed examining and improving.

Updated: 11:10 Friday, October 11, 2002