£3m needed to protect the valley

Hebden Bridge falls victim to flash floods, July 9, 2012. Photo by Michelle Holtshauzen
Hebden Bridge falls victim to flash floods, July 9, 2012. Photo by Michelle Holtshauzen

MORE than £3 million needs to be spent on flood defences in the upper Calder Valley, a number of key organisations have revealed.

Calderdale Council has identified £1.5 million of required works, the Environment Agency has more than £1.2 million of works, repairs totalling £250,000 have been identified by the Canal and Rivers Trust and, while Yorkshire Water cannot be specific on costs due to commercial sensitivities, the total value of all the required works is more than £3 million.

The scale of the reconstruction effort ranges from replacing footpath chippings, costing less than £50, to large-scale engineering projects costing tens of thousands of pounds, though all work identified as carrying an immediate risk to members of the public, traffic or pedestrians, has been completed, said a council spokesperson.

Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for Economy and Environment Coun Barry Collins said the council was expecting its total bill to increase considerably as more repair and remediation works were identified.

“The events of last summer were unprecedented, with major floods in close proximity to each other,” he said. “And the lesson for all of us is absolutely clear. We must increase our resilience to such wild weather, both individually and as a community, because we’re likely to see more of it in the future”.

The council has already completed investment in highways and associated works totalling £1.062 million, with a further £440,000 of other work already identified and further projects under preparation.

The Environment Agency has also undertaken substantial works since the first Calder Valley flooding in June and has promised to do more.

Adam Tunningley, the Environment Agency’s Partnership Manager for West Yorkshire, said: “Following the widespread and repeated flooding in the upper Calder Valley this year, we have already made repairs in a number of areas and have brought in extra resources to work alongside those of the local authority to undertake an extensive survey of the entire River Calder.

“We are also investigating the interaction of flood waters between the River Calder and canal network to better understand the sources of flooding and identify potential alleviation measures. In addition, we are using data provided by Yorkshire Water to review surface water flood risk.

“This work will help us to identify potential schemes to alleviate some of the flooding issues experienced in the summer and will also enable us to draw up options for larger, more comprehensive flood alleviation measures in the medium to long term which would be subject to available funding.

“All the work we are carrying out in the valley is subject to environmental regulations so the work we do protects and enhances the wider river environment.”

A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said more than 250 individual work projects – varying in scale - had been completed in Calderdale since the summer floods.

“Yorkshire Water has invested tens of thousands of pounds cleaning and removing sediment from the sewers in the Calder Valley area. This funding is likely to increase further as maintenance work continues and the need for further investment is identified.”

David Baldacchino, Manchester and Pennine waterways manager for the Canal and River Trust, said: “The trust has spent almost £300,000 to repair the canal following the summer’s severe weather which caused significant damage to the wash walls and towpath along the Rochdale Canal.”

A local flood defence campaigner has welcomed the news that over £3 million will be spent on upper Calder Valley flood defences, but has called for more to be done.

Barry Greenwood, from the Upper Calder Valley Flood Prevention Action Group, said: “I am happy with anything that is being done to prevent future flooding. But I would like to see a full list of the 250 individual work projects that have been completed in Calderdale since the summer flooding.

“There’s no way that there have been 250 individual projects carried out to alleviate flooding in the area.”

While large sums of money are being spent to improve public infrastructure in the upper Calder Valley, residents are being urged to do all they can to protect their properties.

Coun Collins said: “We are working closely with key partners to deliver a wide range of flood alleviation schemes. Equally, it is up to householders and businesses to help protect their properties as effectively as they can.”

Grants are available for flood resilience work via the Community Foundation for Calderdale’s Upper Valley Flood Fund at www.cffc.co.uk.

Steve Duncan, Community Foundation CEO, said: “The fund of over £150,000 continues to receive donations and has supported more than 200 households with flood relief grants of £650 on average.

“We have also recently started to distribute emergency flood kits to the most vulnerable houses in the upper Calder Valley and we welcome applications for £150 from people in areas vulnerable to floods.”