Rare glimpse behind scenes at York’s crucial Foss Barrier

webnexttech | Rare glimpse behind scenes at York's crucial Foss Barrier

The Press was given a behind-the-scenes look inside the 16.5 tonne Foss Barrier – and a chance to see how it operates. The Environment Agency (EA) said that across the network, the city’s flood defences have faced the longest sustained floodwater challenge in 150 years recently. Mark Fuller described the actions and impact of lowering the Foss Barrier (Image: Kevin Glenton) There were 10 ‘named’ storms over the period from September 2023 to January 2024 and for Yorkshire as a whole, it has been the wettest five months to March since 1872. READ MORE: York floods: 10 photos of the devastating floods of 1982 Massive new flood gate to be fitted to Foss Barrier in York Environment Agency in York gives its fullest account yet of why it raised the Foss barrier on Boxing Day In addition, the agency said the county in 2023 had seen the wettest July to December since records began. Centred around a dedicated incident room inside the DEFRA building in Peasholme Green, the EA provides round-the-clock protection for the city, as well as North Yorkshire, Hull and East Yorkshire. Worked by a rota of fully-trained EA staff who also have day jobs with the agency, this room has been open and active for 45 days since mid-October 2023. The agency said between then and March of this year, the water that flowed through the city weighed more than 2,000 million tonnes – the same as the entire contents of the Kielder Reservoir. Flood incident management team leader Jon Knight said his role is to make sure there are plans in place for people to respond to incidents.Jon Knight at work in the EA incident room in Peasholme Green (Image: Kevin Glenton) He said: “The Environment Agency liaises with the fire service, police, local authorities and the military and also passes information nationally through COBR – the government’s civil contingencies committee.”Mark Fuller alongside part of a recent addition to flood protection around the Foss Barrier itself (Image: Kevin Glenton) Flood incident duty officer Mark Fuller has more than 20 years of experience. He said part of the role involves looking at all the duties and organisational assignments in opening and closing the city’s flood gates. More than 50 staff are deployed in incidents, including response and communication with City of York Council and Yorkshire Water. The city’s flood defences have built up since the 1970s, with pumping stations ‘upstream’ in places such as Holgate Beck and Water End, as well as the Foss Barrier. Work completed at the Foss Barrier in 1987 at its location close to the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss.One of the reading displays inside the Foss Barrier (Image: Kevin Glenton) It’s purpose when closed is to prevent high river levels in the River Ouse from ‘backing up’ into the Foss by forming a seal with the river bed. Since the floods of December 2015, the Environment Agency has spent £104 million on flood defences in the city.

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