Officially opened on 11 October 2018, the £17.8 million project, led by the Environment Agency, helps to protect 378 homes and 165 businesses in the town centre from flooding from Eller Beck and Waller Hill Beck, which rise very quickly after heavy rain. The project is designed to provide the town with this new level of protection over the course of the next 100 years.
Skipton has experienced significant flooding in 1908, 1979, 1982, 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2015. A life was lost as a result of the 1982 flood. Construction of the scheme started in March 2015, where two flood storage areas have been created upstream of Skipton at Eller Beck near Skipton Golf Club, and Waller Hill Beck to slow the flow of water from the surrounding hills, reducing the risk of the becks causing floods in the town centre.
The new flood storage areas can hold a combined total of 111 million gallons of water equivalent to 168 Olympic sized swimming pools, or 5.2 million bathtubs.
The scheme also includes 300 metres of new flood defence walls including new raised walls that have been constructed in the town centre at Morrison’s car park, and near private gardens and a children’s play area further upstream in the town.
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Scheme opening announcement article from gov.uk (Oct 2018)
Eller Beck Flood Storage Area - near Skipton Golf Course is the larger of the two storage areas. A 13 metre high, 610 metre wide earthworks dam has been built which can hold 433,000 cubic metres of water or 95 million gallons. Normal flows pass unrestricted through a pipe known as a culvert within the dam, but during a flood, a barrier called a penstock will be lowered to block off the culvert inlet so that water can be held back to form a reservoir.
Waller Hill Flood Storage - the dam at Waller Hill is 9 metres high, 105 metres wide, and has the capacity to hold 72,000 cubic metres of water, or nearly 16 million gallons. A concrete culvert with inlet and outlet has been constructed to allow the beck to flow during normal conditions, which allows high river flows to be held back.