Flooding in Flaxton

A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land which is normally dry. Climate change predictions are that we will have more frequent extreme rainfall events that may cause flooding in future. There are different types of flooding. Those we experience in Flaxton are:

  1. Stream flooding, where streams overflow their banks.
  2. Surface water flooding. This can occur during exceptional rainfall in any location where the water drains off slower than it accumulates.
  3. Groundwater flooding, when the water table rises above normal levels to flood cellars and underfloor areas.
  4. Sewer flooding, which is due to overloading of the sewer or blockage.

Flooding is closely related to drainage and may be regarded by those affected as due to inadequate drainage away from the flooded site. However, flooding may also be caused by increasing drainage towards the flooded site. Causes and the powers and responsibilities for dealing with drainage and flooding are complex and difficult to unravel for each flooding incident.

Where flooding is due to the overflow of a river or stream, the bodies with powers to do something about this are:

  1. For rivers designated as ‘main river’ – the Environment Agency.
  2. For streams within an Internal Drainage Board area – the Foss IDB (in Flaxton, the only streams affected are those which form the boundary with Strensall on York Lane and the associated ditches alongside York Lane and running roughly parallel to this and crossing Cross Lane).
  3. For other streams it is the landowners, although permission will be needed from North Yorkshire County Council for works within the stream.

The responsibility for remedying surface water flooding may be very difficult to establish, as it may relate both to the drainage onto and away from the site and be regarded as an act of God. However, the Environment Agency in conjunction with the lead Local Flood Authority (NYCC) work with their partners to review, agree and record what surface water flood data best represent local conditions.

Flooding of the highway in Flaxton can be a problem following exceptionally heavy rain. Factors relevant to Flaxton in regard to these incidents are as follows:

  1. The rainfall intensity was exceptional, but might be expected to occur more frequently in future as a consequence of climate change. As an act of God, nothing can be done.
  2. Surface water runoff is increased by having extensive areas of hard surface in the form of outbuildings, yards, car parks and ménage areas. These may or not have been the subject of planning permission, but it is something that Flaxton PC might raise with the planning authority and North Yorkshire County Council. It is illegal to drain water onto the highway.

Drainage of the highway is within the powers, but not the responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council.

Where statutory responsibility cannot be established, it is also open for those affected by flooding to take Common Law action against those seen as responsible. Common Law also has the advantage for the complainant of only requiring the balance of probability to be established rather than having the facts established beyond reasonable doubt, as in Statute Law.

Groundwater flooding is the individual landowner’s responsibility and does not appear to be causing much of a problem in Flaxton.

Flaxton is regarded by Yorkshire Water as having separate foul and surface water drainage from houses, so sewer flooding is the responsibility of Yorkshire Water or individual households.