ENVIRONMENT chiefs have been called upon to ensure people living in the centre of York do not suffer further flooding misery.
New council leader Andrew Waller, who is also City of York Council's representative on the Yorkshire Regional Flood Defence Committee (YRFDC), believes long-term changes in farming methods could prevent the area being swamped by future downpours.
The Environment Agency is due to publish its Ouse Catchment Flood Management Plan later this month to look at a strategy to prevent the river overflowing in future.
However, Coun Waller says it is unlikely the report will mean the city's current flood walls being raised, and says greater emphasis needs to be placed on the treatment on land upstream of York.
Tree planting by farmers to the north of the city has been marked out as one potential way of reducing the flooding risk, but Coun Waller says financial incentives need to be provided to those who can play their part in the fight against flooding.
"In the long term, changing farming practices and land use would defend the city much better than taller defences could, but we need to get it right," he said.
"It's unreasonable to expect landowners to change the way they do things without sharing in the benefits. There must be financial incentives to show it's beneficial to them top introduce new and different farming practices.
"Flood defence can be more than a solid barrier - it can be dealt with at source. If we look at long-term weather predictions, building flood walls higher and higher will not necessarily save us."
Coun Waller says he has asked Environment Agency officers to come to York and hear local views about the Ouse flood plan.
But he fears the determination to tackle the flooding situation at its source is currently missing, saying: "The Environment Agency is saying we need to look at the long term, but it is not as far forward as I would like to see it.
"There is a need for somebody to provide the resources to implement a plan and I am getting a bit frustrated about the fact that has not happened because there is no time to waste.
"Until last summer, flooding was not really on the political agenda, but now everybody is talking about it and there is an unheralded level of interest. If we are going to have the sort of climate changes over the next 20 years which are predicted, we need to start the groundwork now."
He said he would continue to press the Environment Agency for funding for the Leeman Road flood defence scheme, having previously raised fears about its future. The Environment Agency was unavailable for comment.