Extra investment into Calderdale’s communities will make a huge difference in the battle against flooding, according to the Environment Agency.
An additional £21m has been pledged by the Government for Calderdale’s flood defences, on top of the £35m that was awarded for the region in 2016.
The cash will be spent on flood defence schemes in Hebden Bridge, Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge, as well as the ongoing work in Mytholmroyd.
Current estimates are that the work in Hebden Bridge will cost around £26m, the work in Brighouse will cost around £11m and the work in Mytholmroyd will cost around £32m, with no estimate yet on the planned work in Sowerby Bridge.
Helen Batt. Director Calder Catchment, at the Environment Agency, said: “This is as a result of long negotiations with government by ourselves, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Calderdale Council, who identified what needed further funding to do everything we wanted.
“In Hebden Bridge we are developing a scheme that will address flooding from the River Calder and Hebden Water, and address the problem of surface water.
“We will build walls on Hebden Water and the river, put in three pumping stations, and improve the gulley system to take surface water and pump it into the river.
“The main areas of the work will be around Old Gate, Bridge Gate, the Co-op and Stubbing Holme Road.
“In Brighouse there is an issue with flooding from the River Calder, so we will improve the walls, while there will also be work at Clifton Beck, around the Armytage Road Industrial Estate, around Wellholme Park, repairing culverts and improving channels, possibly by creating a diversion channel where water can go when levels go up.
“There are also issues with surface water flooding, but we’re potentially looking at that at a later stage.”
Helen was keen to reassure residents that as little disruption as possible will be caused by the projects.
“There’s still a lot to do in terms of designs, investigations, planning permissions and consultations with communities and businesses,” she said.
“We know what the experience has been like with the work in Mytholmroyd. It’s been a massive scheme right in the middle of the town and we know the impact it has had.
“In Hebden Bridge there will be works going on in different places, but we will look to phase-in that work and not do it all in one go, as that would have a big impact on businesses.
“If we are doing work that will restrict parking then we won’t be doing that at Christmas or at a time when there is a big event going on.
“We’re hoping to start the work next year and to be finished by the end of 2022 or the start of 2023.”
When asked what difference the work will make in the battle against flooding in future, Helen said: “In Hebden Bridge it will mean we will have a one in 50 standard of protection. At the moment the area we are looking at is one in five, which means there is a 20 per cent chance of flooding occurring in any given year, but that will drop to two per cent.
“It will stop a lot of those regular floods.
“If we have another Boxing Day scenario, it wouldn’t stop it, but it would delay it and give people more time to pick up their children from school, move their possessions, or make sure elderly relatives are in a safe place, so it’s potentially life-saving.
“It’s great work, and should remove that level of fear and stress every time there’s heavy rain or people hear the flood siren.
“It will have a major impact on people’s stress over flooding.”
Helen said the plans for Sowerby Bridge were at a much earlier stage.
“We are looking at how that might look, how much it might cost and what solutions there are to address that area’s needs,” she added. “But that will be a smaller-scale scheme.”