Geography is one of the great assets of the seaside town of Filey, cradled in a gentle bowl of farmland on the Yorkshire Coast. The town’s Edwardian architecture forms a backdrop to pretty seafront parks and gardens. Steep cobbled ravines descend to a wide sandy beach, sheltered by the rocky promontory of Filey Brigg. Walkers following the Wolds Way, Centenary Way or the coastal stretch of the Cleveland Way, meet on Carr Naze, the cliff-top area landward of The Brigg (links to these long distance trails on Filey Town Council website.) Filey’s natural beauty is appreciated by discerning holidaymakers and proud residents alike.
However geography is also arguably one of Filey’s greatest liabilities. How so? Well that natural dip in the thick blanket of boulder clay, parting gift of the last retreating ice-sheets, acts as a funnel for rainwater falling on the farmland peripheral to the town. When heavy deluges occur (which in these times of greater climatic uncertainty seem to be increasingly likely) the risk of flash flooding by surface water is considerable. Most famously in recent years the July 2007 floods were caused by just such a localized and extremely heavy downpour. So rapid was the accumulation of water that drains could not cope; a hundred homes were flooded, causing distress, danger and damage to many residents of Filey.
Building upon the efforts and collaborative work of the Filey Flood Working Group, set up by Filey Town Council a scheme was proposed and experts commissioned to find a solution to protect the homes from future flood events. After many years of work, consultation and negotiation The Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme is the result, with a multi-million pound price tag. This spring it came a step closer to being realised when a planning application submitted to Scarborough Borough Council was approved unanimously. That hurdle passed, the project team has prepared a Business Case to submit to the Environment Agency for the release of allocated funding of £2.8m together with funding from the Regional Flood Defence Levy. Once the remaining finances have been arranged and the necessary permissions and approvals granted, construction is expected to begin in late 2016 / early 2017.
The scheme design has been influenced heavily by geotechnical investigations (soil testing etc.) and engineering considerations but the basic premise is this: To provide flood protection for the town the rainfall running off the wider farmland must be intercepted by a ditch and a low ridge (or ‘bund’) around the perimeter of the town and directed to purpose-built collecting points or ponds which will release the waters to the sea at a controlled rate via the existing ravines either side of the town.
Insights acquired from the Carrs Wetland Project have been provided to the FFAS steering group, commenting on the environmental enhancement potential of the emerging designs. We hope that the storage areas and landscaping of the earthworks will offer a chance to provide some valuable wildlife habitat as well as intercepting the occasional deluge! Keep up with the latest on the dedicated website / blog for the Filey Flood Alleviation Scheme.