VITAL work to keep North Yorkshire roads and properties free from flooding has been placed in doubt after plans emerged to slash county council funding for the work of the environment department.

Environment chiefs at North Yorkshire County Council are only set to receive a third of the cash they had expected to spend on flooding crises in next year's council budget.

The department is expected to receive £500,000 to fund its work relieving flooded properties and highways.

The county spent £1 million on flood work last year, and was spending £750,000 this year, before news of the cuts earmarked for 2003-2004.

Mike Moore, the council's director of environment services, said the proposed budget cuts could have an impact on the authority's flood work.

Councillors will have the final decision on the environment budget at next month's full county council meeting. Mr Moore said: "I had bid for £1.5 million. This will have an impact. Over the last year we have done an awful lot of good work and people have recognised that. Now we will be cutting off work at a higher level. We had been hopeful of receiving some extra funding so I am very disappointed.

"We have solved problems and have made a big difference. This will mean that some works, with higher costs, can't be done until the next financial year."

While the Environment Agency deals with the results of river flooding, the county council helps to clean up and prevent flooding in other areas, including council highways.

Updated: 15:23 Tuesday, January 28, 2003