Flood funding well help meet higher costings of alleviation schemes in Calderdale

Adrian Gill, Environment Agency flood risk manager
Adrian Gill, Environment Agency flood risk manager

New funding for flood alleviation work will help cover higher costings for some of the flood alleviation work being carried out in Calderdale.

Adrian Gill, Environment Agency flood risk manager, said the last six months had brought a better understanding of what work was needed and costs, and new funding had come after some prolongued lobbying, including from Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker and Halifax MP Holly Lynch.

In early September the Secretary of State for DEFRA Theresa Villiers had announced the package which meant an additional £19 million had been made available for Hebden Bridge (£11 million), Brighouse (£5 million) and Mytholmroyd (£3 million).

Additionally, Sowerby Bridge will also receive £1.7 million additional funding so that defences can start to be developed, members of Calderdale Flood Recovery and Resilience Programme Board heard when it met at Halifax Town Hall.

“This enables us to deliver on our government commitments,” said Mr Gill.

Given a good track record of delivery, Mr Gill said he believed there was a good chance of bringing more funding again looking ahead.

Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) asked if the money was assured whatever the situation in Whitehall and Mr Gill said he was as certain as you can be.

Government funded towns cash, which Brighouse and Todmorden will receive, could also provide an avenue for funding but details were awaited.

“A number of things are emerging and we will be in a position to take advantage,” said Mr Gill.

The board noted the report and also agreed to invite the Minister to visit Calderdale.

Helen Batt, EA Calder Catchment Area Manager, reported the latest cost estimate for the Hebden Bridge Flood Alleviation Scheme had risen to £27.3 million and further funding would have to be sought to deliver all elements.

But in the light of the additional funding from Government the Srubbing Holme Road section of the scheme would be progressed to full business case for funding.

Factors including adding elements or solving complex issues had oushed estimated final costs for the Mytholmroyd scheme to between £35 million and £37 million, and some of the Government funding would support this.

A stage two £3 million bid for European Structural and Invesment Funding (ESIF) for Brighouse was being assessed, a further call to ESIF for flood risk funding of £2.4 million had been issued and a joint EA/Calderdale Council team were expected to have a stage one bid for Hebden Bridge in by the start of this month (October).

Detailed design was nearing completion for Hebden Bridge and Brighouse.

However, increasing complexity meant a scheme for Park Road, Elland, posed a risk to properties further downstream and had to be abandoned but other options to protect homes there were being explored.

It is also hoped that talks with Yorkshire Water bear fruit regarding an extension of trialling use of reservoirs in the Hebden Bridge area this winter for flood mitigation.

Flood risk reduction schemes across Calderdale were also progressing, said Ms Batt.

Leader of Calderdale Council Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said later in the meeting that it was important to keep promoting the message that the Calder Valley was a high risk area and this was important work.