Don’t start dredging, stop draining

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I share concern about flooding in our area as expressed recently by Coun Marshall, David Fletcher and Barry Greenwood’s UCVF-PA Group.

However I don’t agree that dredging is the best policy. It has been shown that dredging is an expensive solution that can cause problems such as increased river bank erosion, undermining of bridge foundations and increased downstream flooding. It also needs repeating after every flood as more sediment is deposited. Dredging is primarily a tool for improving navigation, not something we have much need for in the upper Calder Valley.

I also don’t agree that Eric Pickles comments are better informed than the advice of professional hydrologists. However Ian Patterson, the Environment Secretary said: “Dredging is often not the best long term or economic solution. We need to do more to hold water back, way back in the hills”. So flood defences such as Todmorden Park, where excess water can be contained, are better solutions. Obstructions, whether artificial, like the concrete barriers installed at Callis or natural, such as fallen trees, can help in slowing river flow and reducing peak river levels.

However my biggest concern is recent massive increases in draining the large area of moorland and consequent destruction of blanket bog surrounding Hebden Bridge. Blanket bog acts as a sponge, holding vast amounts of water away from the rivers during heavy rain and releasing it slowly over the following days.

One large local owner is getting £250,000 per year from Natural England to drain and burn blanket bog. Why are we all paying to increase the risk of our town flooding so that a small number of individuals can enjoy more sport?

Tim Brooks

Hebden Bridge