Praise for 'fantastic progress' on cutting the risk of flooding in Calderdale

A councillor has hailed the “fantastic” progress made on cutting the risk of flooding in Calderdale nearly six years on after the 2015 Boxing Day floods.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 6:00 am

Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Todmorden and other areas were badly hit by the floodwaters, which wrecked thousands of properties and caused an estimated £150m in damage.

The Environment Agency said over half the actions set out in a plan after the floods have been completed, or are nearing completion.

They include the £41m flood defences at Mytholmroyd, which were officially unveiled last month, and which better protect 400 homes and businesses.

Flood alleviation work has been completed in Mytholmroyd

Coun Scott Patient, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Resilience, hailed the progress made so far.

He said: “In the five years since the launch of the Calderdale Flood Action Plan we’ve seen some fantastic progress to help reduce the risk of flooding in the borough. From major schemes to the efforts of our incredible volunteers, the completion of every action has made a difference and helped increase our resilience to flood events.

“Unfortunately, our changing climate makes extreme weather events more likely to occur. Alongside specific flood reduction schemes as part of the Flood Action Plan, we’re also leading the way in our fight against climate change – work that requires significant effort and a cultural and behavioural shift.

“We’ve come a long way since the launch of the Flood Action Plan, but this work isn’t slowing down. We’ll continue to work together with our partners and volunteers to develop our flood response work, alongside our commitment to the climate agenda, to do all we can to protect our communities from the impacts of flooding.”

The Calderdale Flood Action Plan is five years old this month and to acknowledge this important milestone, the Environment Agency, Calderdale Council and its partners are reflecting on key successes since 2016.

The plan is a ‘living document’ and enables organisations to plan together effectively to achieve common goals.

It is overseen by a group called the Calderdale Flood Programme, which brings together a range of partners including Calderdale Council, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Network Rail, the Canal and River Trust, local flood groups, the voluntary sector and community groups.

Jo Arnold, who leads on the Calderdale Flood Action Plan for the Environment Agency, said: “It’s fantastic that The Calderdale Flood Action Plan is still an invaluable living document five years after inception. The plan outlines the work the partnership, communities and people have delivered and will continue to deliver to reduce flood risk to homes and businesses in the Calder Valley.

“The Flood Action Plan is a great roadmap of how we and many other organisations help better protect communities from flooding, and shows what we are doing to prepare for whatever this winter may bring. However, what is equally as important is that people check their flood risk and sign up to flood warnings. Despite our efforts, we cannot prevent all flooding. It’s vital everyone knows the threat to them and how to keep loved ones, property and possession safe.”

One key achievement since the creation of the plan has been the completion of the £41m flood defence scheme at Mytholmroyd, which now better protects over 400 homes and businesses.

The scheme included the construction of new, raised and improved flood walls, the relocation of Caldene Bridge, widening of the river channel at key locations and floodproofing of many buildings next to the River Calder and Cragg Brook.

The Environment Agency has also completed a £4 million repair programme of work after Storm Ciara in February 2020.

This included the demolition of Shade Chapel, Todmorden, which was badly damaged by the floods, reducing the risk of flooding to 250 properties.

Other emergency work included repairing damaged flood defences throughout the valley and stone/shoal clearance removal from river channels.

Under natural flood management (NFM), over 20 partners are working together on an NFM programme which has so far seen 600 leaky dams installed at Hardcastle Crags, 112,245 trees planted at Gorpley Reservoir and over 700 hectares of moorland planted with sphagnum moss to help hold back water and slow its flow, reducing flood risk further down the valley.

Work in Hebden Bridge, which was badly flooded in 2012, 2015 and 2020, will begin next summer. Also starting next February is a scheme to repair defences at Brighouse to address flooding from Clifton Beck.

* Support your Halifax Courier by becoming a digital subscriber. You will see 70 per cent fewer ads on stories, meaning faster load times and an overall enhanced user experience. Click here to subscribe