Vital funds have been secured to protect homes and businesses that were devastated by the Boxing Day floods in 2015.
The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and West Yorkshire Combined Authority have agreed for £1.3 million funds to help protect over 2,000 homes and over 1,000 businesses in the Colne and Calder Valleys from flooding.
With a total cost of £2.6 million, the investment will introduce measures to mimic natural flood management, including increased woodland cover, peat restoration at Wessenden Head, Marsden Moor and Gorpley Reservoir, as well as the introduction of small dams in the outlet streams at all three sites, helping to slow the flow of water across the catchment and reduce peak flows.
Work will start on site in January 2019, with expected completion in December 2020. They are planned at multiple locations in the Colne and Calder river catchments, including in Gorpley, Wessenden and Hardcastle Crags.
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “The LEP, working with its partners at the Environment Agency and Kirklees and Calderdale councils, moved quickly to protect people, businesses and homes following the Boxing Day floods of 2015.
“I’m delighted that our Growth Deal funding is now being put into flood alleviation schemes to improve the standard of protection for local communities and businesses.
“This new scheme in the Calder Valley in particular reflects our commitment to investing in our region’s amazing natural assets – including natural flood management and peatland restoration – to protect homes and businesses from flooding and other effects of climate change.”
In addition to providing long-term benefits protecting houses and businesses downstream from flooding, the programme will also increase biodiversity over 236 hectares of land and boost local recreation and tourism.
These schemes are part of a package of measures put in place by the LEP, Combined Authority and partner councils across the region following the Boxing Day floods of 2015.
Councillor Tim Swift, Deputy Chair of the LEP and Combined Authority and Leader of Calderdale Council, said: “This flood alleviation scheme will not only help prevent the devastating impact of flooding on our local communities and economy, it will also create improved habitats that wildlife and local people can all enjoy.
“However, with 7,385 homes and 4,698 businesses still at high risk of flooding in our region, we need further investment to ensure we offer the best possible protection to our local communities.”
Just weeks after the floods hit, the Leeds City Region £5 Million Business Flood Recovery Fund was launched, which supported businesses to reopen and local small / medium sized businesses to get back on their feet.
Additional Leeds City Region Growth Deal Funding of £20 million, alongside £57 million of partner match funding for the City Region, was also invested in a programme of activity. This is expected to protect 1,385 businesses and safeguard over 11,100 jobs.
Other major projects supported by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership that are already open include the £17.8 million Skipton Flood Alleviation Scheme, which launched in October 2018, and the £52 million Leeds Flood Defence Scheme, which opened in October 2017.
Works are currently on site in Mytholmroyd, due to complete in spring 2020, and construction will soon commence on the Wyke Beck Valley Flood Alleviation Scheme in east Leeds. The Combined Authority is also working with partners on a pipeline of projects which are expected to come forward in the coming year.
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry, said: “Ensuring that people’s homes and businesses are kept safe from extreme weather is central to building a Northern Powerhouse that’s fit for the future.
“This £1.3 million investment from the Local Growth Fund will go towards a vital scheme to help protect over 2,000 homes and over 1,000 businesses in the Colne and Calder Valleys from flooding and provide reassurance to local people.
“This important project will also enhance the habitat for local wildlife, making the area a better place to live, work and visit which will help the local economy to grow.”