Marking the fifth anniversary of the Calderdale Flood Action Plan
The Calderdale Flood Action Plan was created in October 2016 following the floods of Boxing Day 2015 to set out the actions being taken to recover from the floods, reduce the impact of flooding and build resilience for future events.
The Calderdale Flood Action Plan (CFAP) turns five years old in October 2021, and work has come a long way since it was created.
The Plan is a ‘living document’ that is discussed, monitored and updated by the Calderdale Flood Recovery and Resilience Programme. The Programme brings together a range of partners including Calderdale Council, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, the Canal and River Trust, Network Rail, local flood groups, the voluntary sector and community groups.
The majority of the original actions were gathered and consulted through workshops, drop-in sessions and meetings, and these have continued to develop and be shaped by the work as it has progressed.
Progress to date has been strong, with over 50% of actions completed or nearing completion over the last five years. All actions remain under continual review by the four operational groups that monitor them.
Flooding is one of the most significant consequences of climate change and is recognised in the Council’s goals to tackle the Climate Emergency. Climate change will lead to more frequent and more intense storms placing the Calderdale community at a greater risk of flooding. The work of the Calderdale Flood Recovery and Resilience Programme Board is to take action to mitigate the risk and devastating impact of flooding.
Climate change is taken into account in the design of flood defence schemes with different scenarios modelled to understand the impact of climate change on the level of protection provided by the schemes.
The infographics here are by no means exhaustive but highlight some of these key areas of progress within each of the four themes of the Plan – Strengthening Defences, Natural Flood Management, Resilient Infrastructure and Community Resilience. All figures are correct as of September 2021.
Actions in this theme are about understanding the issues and developing programmes of work to reduce flooding from rivers and surface water.
Construction of key flood defences in Mytholmroyd is now complete, following three years of construction. The £41 million scheme to protect 400 homes and businesses from flooding in Mytholmroyd was officially opened in October 2021. Joint working between the Environment Agency and Calderdale Council means Mytholmroyd is more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The scheme included the construction of new, raised and improved flood walls, the relocation of Caldene Bridge, widening of the river channel at key locations and floodproofing of many buildings next to the River Calder and Cragg Brook.
The Environment Agency have completed the Flood Asset Recovery Programme of work after Storm Ciara in February 2020. This included the demolition of Shade Chapel, Todmorden, which was unfortunately badly damaged by the floods, reducing the risk of flooding to 250 properties. Other emergency work included repairing damaged flood defences throughout the valley and stone/shoal clearance removal from river channels.
Natural Flood Management (NFM)
Action in this theme is about working with Calderdale's natural features. NFM aims to ensure a more holistic catchment approach to flood prevention when delivered in conjunction with civil engineering solutions.
Utilising research, guidance and strategies developed by the Calderdale NFM Operational Group, community organisations and volunteers have delivered an impressive array of NFM interventions from tree planting and leaky dams to watercourse management and moorland restoration and this work continues apace. Major schemes such as those at Gorpley Reservoir and Hardcastle Crags are being undertaken in partnership to secure funding and bring the greatest possible benefits to local communities.
Existing NFM interventions have been mapped on an interactive map that is available to the public online. Also, a new NFM opportunity mapping is now complete showing potential NFM locations. This was launched in August 2021.
This theme coordinates the work of partner agencies, including Utility companies, to ensure infrastructure is more resilient to future flood events.
Initially focussed on ‘Flood Recovery’ after the Boxing Day floods, its purpose changed following the successful delivery of a wide range of actions. These included inspections and repairs of flood-damaged highways, bridges and right of way schemes, repair and replacement of damaged substations, and repairs to damaged reservoirs.
Now, actions within this section focus on maintaining and improving infrastructure resilience, which is locally critical to ensure it is functional for mitigating the impact of future storms. Completed and ongoing work has included improving the resilience of power substations or relocating them where required, exploring ways to manage road, right of way, and railway-related flood risk, and making sewage, reservoir and canal systems more resilient.
Northern Powergrid has completed its initial programme of relocating ten electricity sub-stations from flood areas to safer sites. A second programme relocating or raising sub-stations is underway.
Actions in this theme are about making sure that people and property are as resilient as they can be when facing the perils of floods and what might follow by taking actions ahead of time to help life get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Initially, this was about supporting communities in the immediate aftermath of the flooding, by administering grants to homes and businesses, supporting local charities and assisting in the establishment and maintenance of volunteer flood groups and flood warden networks in at-risk locations to support communities. Five years on, the amazing work of these groups continues!
Engagement and communications have continued with local householders, businesses and schools to raise awareness of flood risk and support preparedness by encouraging them to sign up for flood warnings, monitor their possible flood risk, keep flood plans and take measures to protect their property. This also includes promoting the Property Flood Resilience Grants and Business Grants made available following Storm Ciara in February 2020.
Regular flood exercises have tested the response of partners and the community to flooding, while siren tests, communications campaigns, case studies, a monthly flood newsletter and the Eye on Calderdale website have promoted the continued awareness of local flood risks. Mental health support has been provided in the community through the work of Healthy Minds Group.
With thanks to our partners and the many volunteers across Calderdale who continue to support the Flood Action Plan.
Further details on volunteering opportunities are available here.