The Environment Agency has admitted mistakes in its handling of proposed major new multi-million pound flood defences for Skipton.

Approval for work at five separate sites including the building of a reservoir at Waller Hill, off Otley Road, and the building and strengthening of flood walls in the town centre was given by Craven District Council on Monday.

But before approving the plans, councillors heard from farmer John Stapleton about the impact the reservoir would have on his family business and on the approach into town.

Mr Stapleton, who said he owned land at Waller Hill, said he was not against the improved flood defences, but believed the Environment Agency had failed to consult properly.

He also believed most people were unaware of the visual impact of the reservoirs – to take storage water – on Otley Road.

The meeting also heard Will Benedikz, project manager for the Environment Agency, admit to mistakes in the consultation exercise and to promise to do better in future.

“We have been working with Mr Stapleton and his land agent looking at processes during the construction and how we can reduce the impact on the family business,” he said. “We would like to reassure the council that we are working with Mr Stapleton towards an amicable agreement.”

Mr Benedikz added that the agency was also working with both the council and North Yorkshire County Council to mitigate the impact of the reservoirs on Otley Road and at Skipton Golf Club.

The flood works are part of major £10 million defences, the remainder of which - including a reservoir at Skipton Golf Club - are to be decided by North Yorkshire County Council.

It is planned that the flood storage reservoir at Waller Hill Beck together with new and strengthened walls will protect the town centre from future floods.

At Waller Beck, the earth embankment dam with reinforced grass spillway channel, will be built to a height of around 9.5 metres and be about 105 metres long. Access during construction will be off the A65, while a new maintenance access will be built off Otley Road.

in addition, work will be carried out on flood walls at Spindle Mills, at an open channel next to Morrisons, Broughton Road; Ginnel Mews, and at Devonshire Place.

Skipton ward councillor John Kerwin-Davey welcomed the scheme.

“I am very enthusiastic about this and look forward to it bring brought forward at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

The Environment Agency has said it hopes to start work on the project in the summer. It is predicted to take two years to complete.