YORKSHIRE remains at the frontline for another devastating flash flood as Britain faces up to the threat of catastrophic climate change, experts have warned the Government.

On the first anniversary of last summer's devastation in North Yorkshire, leading academics have issued a stark warning that communities living in the county's remote valleys are among those at the greatest risk of a repeat of a flash flood.

The trail of destruction caused by the deluge of water which swept through valleys in Ryedale and Hambleton has left a clear-up bill running into millions of pounds.

Twelve months on, work is still continuing to repair minor roads and bridges which were swept away after a massive electrical storm brought almost three inches of rain, the equivalent of a month's fall, in only three hours. One resident Ray Yoward is still having to live in a caravan because of complications over making his Hawnby home safe.

Academics at the Flood Hazard Research Centre, an internationally-renowned facility based at Middlesex University, have warned that the county is facing a very real threat of being swamped again in another flash flood.

Sir John Harman, the chairman of the Environment Agency, has also admitted flash flooding will happen again as climate change poses the biggest threat of natural disaster in modern times.

Between 1998 and 2003 twice as much was claimed for damage caused by the weather with the insurance pay-outs running into billions of pounds, according to the ABI.

Prof Colin Green, a professor of water economics, is currently working on a European Union-funded study analysing the risk to human life of flash floods.

He said: "It is only a matter of time before we see another instance of flash flooding in Britain, and there is a distinct possibility that we will see a severe loss of life. The prediction is that climate change will be responsible for more extreme weather conditions at an increased rate of occurrence. This will lead to more flash flooding, and North Yorkshire is in one of the areas which is most at risk."

The Environment Agency has conducted indepth research into identifying those communities most at risk of flash flooding in the wake of the disaster in Boscastle in Cornwall in the summer of 2004.

According to Prof Green, North Yorkshire ranks high on areas which will be prone to flash flooding in the future with a potent mix of steep sided valleys and impervious rock encouraging a sharp run-off for rainfall.

John Greenway, the Conservative MP for Ryedale, urged the Government to ensure enough funding was being made available for flood prevention measures and early warning systems.

He said: "We cannot be over cautious, as we can expect this kind of flash flooding to re-occur at some point somewhere in the country in the future."

The Environment Agency has stressed a major review of policies has been undertaken since the North Yorkshire deluge, and plans have been drawn up to implement a faster early warning system with messages issued via the telephone network.

A water monitoring station above Hawnby near Helmsley which was washed away is currently being rebuilt, and talks have been held with the MET Office to improve the quality of its radar systems to track future freak weather conditions.

But Craig McGarvey, the agency's North Yorkshire area manager, said there were no plans to introduce wide-ranging flood defence schemes because the county's sparsely populated areas meant the expense of the projects could not be justified.

This is cache, read story here