The Government Minister charged with overseeing flooding prevention across the country has warned that plans for defences in Calderdale need to be finalised by summer to prevent communities being swamped by future deluges.
Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey visited Mytholmroyd yesterday to view the design options for a new £15 million flood alleviation scheme.
It is hope the scheme will prevent a repeat of the flooding that struck the area in 2015 and give better protection to nearly 400 homes and businesses.
Dr Coffey said: “I’m pleased the decision on how to proceed is going to be made by the summer. That will give more encouragement to the residents and businesses of Mytholmroyd.
“I’m hoping it will be made no later than the end of June. I will be asking questions if it has not been decided by then.”
Mytholmroyd and other parts of the Calder Valley were among the areas worst hit by the flooding which hit Yorkshire on Boxing Day 2015.
Flood defence work in the village is already underway, including the demolition of unstable water-damaged properties to make space for the widening of the River Calder.
The flood alleviation scheme is part of a £50 million the Government investment to provide better flood protection to 1,600 properties across Calderdale by 2021.
Dr Coffey said: “I fully understand people are keen to get measures in place as quickly as possible. There is a need to perfect the design in order to make sure we better protect the 400 homes and businesses.”
But Tim Foulds, founder of the volunteer Elphaborough and Mytholmroyd Flood Support hub, said it was a race against time to complete the scheme.
He said: “If it is done right and it’s in keeping with the village it should look really nice - but time is always against us.
“It’s reassuring the Minister is trying to speed up the process. It always seems to be about looking at plans and having meetings after meetings. If this lady can apply pressure, it can only help us.
“Due to the work that has started, we are currently at out most vulnerable if the weather did turn for the worst. Things need to be done fast. If a storm is coming we can’t tell it to hang on a minute.
“The quicker they can get this in place, the better.”
Mytholmroyd’s defences will be bolstered by a separate scheme a short distance upstream in Hebden Bridge, which is due to start construction later this year.
And natural flood management projects, such as tree planting and using land to store water, and further slow-the-flow initiatives are currently being considered across Calderdale.
Dr Coffey said: “The flood risk will be significantly reduced for those homeowners and businesses. I’m not going to say there will never be a flood again. But if there is unprecedented rainfall people will be better protected than they are today.”