Marking the third 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 Plan is a ‘living document’ that is discussed, monitored and updated by the Calderdale Flood Programme. The Programme brings together a range of partners including Calderdale Council, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, the Canal and River Trust, local flood groups, the voluntary sector and community groups
The majority of the original actions were gathered 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 72 out of the 210 actions completed over the last three years, and 48 nearing completion. The latest update of the plan showed 19 actions that have not progressed as quickly or have been identified as requiring assistance - these remain under continual review by the four operational groups that monitor them.
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 2019.
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Actions in this theme are about understanding the issues and developing programmes of work to reduce flooding from rivers and surface water.
The Mytholmroyd Flood Alleviation Scheme is on track for completion in Summer 2020 with further major schemes in development at Hebden Bridge and Brighouse. Six Flood Risk Reduction Schemes (FRRS) have been completed at Bacup Road, Shop Lock and Burnt Acres, Todmorden; Nutclough and Woodland View, Hebden Bridge; and Pin Hill, Midgley, and several others are being developed to give important drainage and other flood relief measures in key locations throughout Calderdale.
Work is ongoing to manage and maintain flood risk assets from watercourses to drainage and sewage systems, and to promote the implementation of more sustainable drainage together with the effective maintenance of watercourses on private land. Calderdale Council is identifying where there is not enough capacity in existing surface water drainage systems and improving online information to identify highway issues. Pioneering pilots are being developed to see if reservoirs and canals could be used to store water and help reduce the risk of flooding.
Securing funding for these ambitious works is an ongoing challenge and partners are continually seeking new ways to achieve this. This has recently involved working creatively with funders who have not historically invested in flood risk, but who now recognise the economic impact of flooding, to promote the economic benefit of schemes at Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse.
Natural Flood Management
Actions in this theme focus on managing the landscape to slow the flow of water.
The first step in this process is to understand the relationships between catchment management and flooding. A number of modelling studies are building our shared understanding of current land management impacts on flooding, and thereby informing the strategic priorities for Natural Flood Management (NFM). Mapping initiatives are building on nationally published work to identify and prioritise land.
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.
To engage landowners and promote the use of NFM techniques, the group has produced guidance for farmers on NFM and SOURCE partners have developed a grant scheme to help landowners fund NFM on their land. A strategy has been developed to maximise the efficacy of future engagement.
Other work has focussed on influencing government policy and regulation to secure support for future payment of landowners in order to deliver multiple environmental benefits through NFM, and assessing habitat regulations of emerging Local Plan policies.
This theme details actions to increase the resilience of infrastructure, such as sewer systems, electricity substations and transport routes, to flooding.
Initially focussed on ‘Flood Recovery’, its purpose changed following the successful delivery of a wide range of actions after the Boxing Day floods. 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 operational for future floods. 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.
Investigations have been undertaken to identify issues from potential future landslips and damage to flood risk assets, and maintenance plans developed for critical flood resilient infrastructure. Other actions in this theme have addressed the need to facilitate better information sharing with the wider community.
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. Three 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.
Regular flood exercises have tested the response of partners and the community to flooding, while siren tests, communications campaigns, case studies, a bimonthly flood newsletter and the Eye on Calderdale website have promoted the continued awareness of local flood risks. Delivery of mental health support is ongoing to help those affected by flooding.
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.