Environment Secretary Liz Truss promises flood prevention measures
Friday, 29 January 2016
Perhaps in response to the welly protest and negative public opinion it has been announced that new flood defences will be built in Mytholmroyd and possibly Hebden Bridge and a new flood prevention plan for the whole Calder Valley will be drawn up, and work started in October 2016.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss made the promise of new defences while visiting the area yesterday.
Work could start as early as the summer and a plan for the whole Calder Valley will go to Parliament in October.
Ms Truss told BBC Look North: "Calder Valley was one of the worst affected areas. I'm talking to local councillors, MPs and residents about what needs to be done to make sure the Calder Valley is protected in future and I'm committed to doing that. We need to look at the whole [area] and what we can do improve the defences in towns like Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge."
This is a two pronged attack. A plan for Mytholmroyd will be drawn up by May and could include plans to raise walls, said Ms Truss.
A more detailed plan for the area will look at improving defences in Hebden Bridge and at slowing down the flow of water in other parts of the valley. Reference was made to regulating the water flows from the reservoirs and to upland management.
Craig Whittaker, MP for the Calder Valley, said it was a "two-pronged attack" which would help protect the area from future floods. "It's a huge step forward. This is the first time any government has decided we will have the plans we need."
Bob Deacon, Chair of the Hebden Bridge Partnership said in his personal capacity, "I am as critical as the next person of this government but I do think this is progress and we now have to keep the government to its word and engage through the CMBC Commission, the CMBC Road shows and directly with the EA to ensure these plans build on our local knowledge and do include interventions of all kinds: upland management, tree planting, use of reservoirs, some engineering work, flood plains and dredging where sensible."
The Hebden Bridge Partnership and the Town Council will need to involve the public in discussions of how best to add some river defences on the Hebden Water and the Calder while retaining the amenity value of the two rivers for residents and visitors.
An earlier brief drawn up by the Environment Agency for work they were to do after the 2012 floods talked of an architect and public competiton for the best way of doing this. As we know, this post 2012 plan has still not been seen and will need changing in the light of the 2015 floods but the idea of a competition might be retained. The Hebden Bridge Partnership will consider these points at its next Board meeting on February 8th.