Truss promises new Calder Valley flood defence plan

Environment Secretary Liz Truss was in Mytholmroyd today
Environment Secretary Liz Truss was in Mytholmroyd today

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Liz Truss has promised a comprehensive flood defence plan for the whole Calder Valley will be in place by the end of the year.

As she visited the area, Ms Truss also promised Mytholmroyd residents a specific plan to repair and upgrade the town’s defences will be produced by May.

The commitments came less than 24 hours after the Government also made £3 million available for a study to look at improving defences in Leeds.

The latest promises were made against the backdrop of a new poll pointing to significant public anger over the Government’s handling of the floods.

Ms Truss said: “Clearly [the Calder Valley] was probably the worst hit place, 2,700 homes were affected and we need to give people confidence those businesses do have a future in the Calder Valley and that we have the proper defences in place.

“The overall plan for the valley will look at upstream storage, so the reservoirs Yorkshire Water has, as well as other measures needed for the long term.”

Ms Truss also visited the Royal Armouries, in Leeds, which was itself hit by the Boxing Day floods but is also one of the attractions that will be part of a new marketing campaign aimed at encouraging tourists to visit flood-hit areas of the North.

The Prime Minister announced £1 million would be handed to tourism agency VisitEngland to support the effort.

Ms Truss said: “This area is very much open for business, I’ve heard that from the Royal Armouries, a fantastic place to visit and the Calder Valley likewise.

“Lots of shops and restaurants are open already, more will be open in time for Easter. It’s a fantastic part of the country and we want to help businesses open their doors.”

The Environment Secretary moved to play down suggestions that the Government is looking to shift the financial burden for flood defences to local councils after earlier this week praising a scheme in Somerset which sees residents charged a precept to play for flood measures.

She said: “That was a specific comment about Somerset where the local authority came forward and said they wanted to do more local management and that was the way they wanted to do it.

“I haven’t had any such interest from Yorkshire authorities.”

During her visit to Leeds, Ms Truss met the city’s council leader, Judith Blake, to discuss the next steps in developing plans for better flood protection.

Coun Blake said: “We were pleased to welcome her to Leeds., She’s taking our concerns very seriously. We are working on a scoping exercise for the feasibility study and we hope to have that in place by March.

“We are looking forward to moving forward so we can get Leeds the protection we need and deserve.”

The new advertising campaign will launch on February 9 and will showcase attractions across Yorkshire, Northumberland, Lancashire and Cumbria ahead of the half-term and Easter holidays.