A campaigner has taken his fight for improved flood defences for the upper Calder Valley to the Prime Minister.
Barry Greenwood from The Upper Calder Valley Flood Prevention Action Group (UCVFPAG) was joined by fellow campaigner Nathan Martin on the visit to 10 Downing Street.
The duo presented David Cameron’s staff with petitions containing thousands of signatures from residents of the upper Calder Valley calling for immediate action to boost the area’s flood defences. They also handed over the results of a river survey carried out in October/November 2012 by a chartered engineer, which the UCVFPAG commissioned.
Mr Greenwood said: “I wrote to Mr Cameron’s office prior to the visit to ask if I could have a few minutes with him to tell him that we are having a few problems with certain organisations in getting works started. However, I was told he was unavailable for discussion during my visit.
“The people in the valley are absolutely dismayed that very little works have been carried out on the rivers to reduce the risk of flooding since the flood on June 22, 2012.”
Mr Greenwood has now set the Environment Agency a three month deadline to carry out work on clearing the River Calder of silt and debris. If no work has taken place by that point he said he will go in and clear it himself.
“If we don’t get some urgent action over the next three months then, after discussions with various people that are involved in the construction industry, we’ll have no alternative but to start removing the debris and vegetation in the river bed,” said Mr Greenwood.
“This is not an action we take lightly and we would be prepared to work with the Environment Agency just as long as this crucial work gets done.”
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency has welcomed Mr Greenwood’s idea and said that it is encouraging river stewardship as long as it does not lead to the endangerment the environment or heighten the chances of future flooding.
The spokesperson said: “The Environment Agency welcomes an active interest from the community in the management of rivers, and we are already working with the flood action groups to promote river stewardship.
“However, those wanting to carry out any work in the watercourse must first obtain permission from the Environment Agency as well as from other private landowners. This is to ensure that the work does not damage the environment or cause an increase in flood risk to neighbouring properties.”