SKIPTON'S long-awaited flood defence project – which stalled because of cash problems – has kicked-off again.

Funding issues, which held up the £13.8 million scheme to protect 500 homes and businesses in the town, was finally sorted out in February.

But work on the scheme only got underway again this week.

Skipton MP Julian Smith MP said: “I am delighted that after so much time and effort by many to find the funds and the resources for this project, it is finally under way."

It has enabled Environment Agency contractors to move in and begin preparatory work at Eller Back, near Skipton Golf Club, where a storage reservoir is to be constructed.

It will hold back water from surrounding hills during periods of heavy or sustained rainfall and slow the flow through the town, reducing the risk of flooding.

A second reservoir is planned on Waller Hill Beck, between the A65 and Otley Road to the North East of Skipton, with work planned to start later this year.

The scheme also includes improvements to river channels in the town centre and raising the height of some existing river walls to reduce the risk of overtopping. Construction work is scheduled to start in the autumn.

Flood resilience advisor, Graham Lindsey, said: “Whilst this work will do much to reduce the risk of flooding in Skipton, we cannot eliminate the risk completely.

"We aim to provide flood warnings for all locations where there is a possibility of river flooding, even if the likelihood is very small.

"It is still important for residents and businesses to be signed up to our free flood warning service so they can be made aware of when flooding is possible or expected, and to have a flood plan in place.”

Principal funding for the project, which will be completed early in 2017, comprises £10.5 million from the Environment Agency and Defra, with further contributions totalling £3.3 million being secured from Craven District Council, North Yorkshire Country Council, the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, Yorkshire Water and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, a Government-backed organisation that invests in schemes supporting local economic growth.

First task for the contractors – taking four weeks – is the construction of a road from the A65 at Skipton Golf Club to a works compound near the Eller Beck construction site. It will also include a temporary river crossing.

A consultation event is planned in early September for residents and business owners affected by the town centre works, which will start in the autumn. More information will be announced towards the end of July.

As part of its wider work to reduce flood risk in Skipton, the Environment Agency is also increasing the availability of its free flood warning service to reflect its most up-to-date information about which areas are potentially at risk from river flooding.

Call Floodline 0345 988 1188 or visit to find out if you are already eligible to receive flood warnings, and what to put in a flood plan.