Natural Flood Management Plans to Reduce Flood Risk in the Calder Valley Revealed

Natural Flood Management Plans to Reduce Flood Risk in the Calder Valley Revealed

West Yorkshire was the scene for Yorkshire Water’s announcement of its long term Natural Flood Management plan for the Calder Valley, on Friday 24th February.

The announcement played out on the moors high above Gorpley reservoir, located between Todmorden and Bacup, where a range of natural flood management initiatives are to be implemented over the next 10 years.

Member of Parliament for the Calder Valley, Craig Whittaker, who has been campaigning to improve flood resilience, received an invitation for a first-hand view of Yorkshire Water’s plans to help protect the towns further down the valley in his constituency.

Yorkshire Water’s first part of the plan is to plant trees. Along with the White Rose Forest partnership, the company has made a pledge to investigate tree-planting opportunities so as to reduce the risk of flooding across the Yorkshire Water estate.

The White Rose Forest is comprised out of a number of organisations who, through teamwork, have aims to plant and manage more woodland to make sure the region is healthier and greener for people, business and wildlife.

The moors above Gorpley have been targeted as a site where tree-planting can take place in the very near future. It will result in trees being planted on 60 hectares of existing species-poor grassland, helping to slow down the rush of rain water to vulnerable locations, such as Todmorden, in the valley below.  Around 3,000 trees will be planted per hectare which could mean up to 200,000 trees possibly planted over the next couple of years by local community groups.

Over the next five to ten years, some other natural flood management measures will also be implemented on these moors. For example, 43 more hectares of blanket bog will be improved by restoring peatland with sphagnum moss, which slows down rain water runoff by absorbing it and acting as a natural flood barrier.

Other environmental enhancements will include:

  • Leaky dams on some of the smaller watercourses. Barriers are added to create these leaky dams which prevent soil and silt escaping and allow water to escape at a slower rate and moderate the flow of water downstream.
  • Fascines, bundles of wood, will be used to strengthen river banks to reduce the risk of soil erosion.
  • The creation of a patchwork of wetland areas.

The Environment Agency already makes use of the Gorpley reservoir for flood attenuation. The reservoir is not used by Yorkshire Water for water supply, which is why it is able to let the Environment Agency use Gorpley. In order to maintain the reservoir at 73% capacity or below, the Environment Agency alters the releases of water.

Granville Davies, Manager of Asset Strategy for Yorkshire Water said; “The flooding at Christmas 2015 had a devastating impact on communities in the Calder Valley and we fully recognise the responsibility for all agencies involved in flood management to work together to devise innovative solutions to reduce the risk of flooding.”

“In addition to contributing to the Calderdale Flood Action Plan we’re leading Calderdale’s Natural Flood Management Group and working with partners, like the White Rose Forest, to look for innovative ways that we can use our land to slow the flow of water in the upper catchments, evaluating the best places for us to plant trees and build leaky dams, and engaging with other land owners in the area.”

Guy Thompson from the White Rose Forest added; “We very much look forward to working with local partners, businesses and the farming community to help design and deliver a resilient and long lasting transformation of this site that will provide not only flood risk benefits but also strengthen ecological networks and create a fantastic place to visit for years to come.”

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