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From John Rhodes

Sunday, 27 December 2015

I see the Facebook group but is it possible for those Town and Calderdale MBC councillors who are around (and not flooded) to meet in emergency session to co-ordinate relief efforts. Many of us will be helping friends and neighbours who are stricken but if ever there was a time for civic leadership it is surely now.

From Lisa M

Sunday, 27 December 2015

I have 2 spare rooms in my house in Bournemouth and although it is a long way away, I'm happy to offer temporary accommodation to anyone who has been displaced by the terrible floods. I am a lesbian and live alone and am happy to house anyone who is gay friendly. I can pick them up from the train or coach station.

My number is 07530 105079. Please let me know if I can help.

From Emma B

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Community Foundation For Calderdale has opened its flood fund to anyone affected by flooding in Calderdale. You can apply here. Anyone wanting to donate to the fund can do so here.

From Allen Keep

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Lots of people will need help and many will and already are giving it. I am on the Friends of the Picture House committee and there is work to be done at the cinema if anyone would like to lend a hand today?

From Jilly C

Sunday, 27 December 2015

I just want to thank everyone who made Hebden her most beautiful best today. From this morning's devastated wasteland, she grew into wonderland of cooperative generosity as the whole town was flooded [!] with volunteers with brooms, mops, food and every kind of donation.

Not a single boss to be seen, everyone bar a few rubberneckers helped transform it. Still a way to go but if everyone just gave as freely as they have here today, the world would transform too and we'd have better prevention to solve still bigger problems.

From Chris B

Monday, 28 December 2015

Just a quick thank you to Craig Whittaker, our brilliant MP for all his support and help in these difficult times (or was that just a dream...)

I'll probably get shot down for making "political" comments about the floods, but what the hell: I've been astounded by the vast amount of time, money and sweat that people both local and from all over the country have given to help people who have had their lives devestated by these floods.

And what have we had from our MP: less than nothing. Shame on him, and shame on all who vote for him in the future.

From DB Cooper

Monday, 28 December 2015

Would this, maybe, be the time to suggest that the dozen or so silted-up-for-a-decade-or-more grates on Central Street (which I assume is an 'unadopted' road) should be unblocked as soon as possible as a preventative measure, given the recent commercial annihilation of Market Street?

From Molly S

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Chris - I do not know for sure but Craig Whitaker may not even be in the country. A young member of his own family who lives in Australia suffered serious heart problems just before Christmas so he has his own personal problems to deal with. Your politically biased comments at this moment in time without being aware of the situation trying to score propaganda points do not do any good at all to any of the political parties. Everyone is working together in the valley at this tragic time. I feel sure that as soon as Mr. Whitaker returns to his office he will do his utmost to help the situation in the Calder Valley. Having property in the centre of Mytholmroyd which has been very badly affected we are extremely appreciative of all the help and offers of help that we have had from near and far.

Molly Sunderland (Politically Independent)

From Chris B

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

I stand by my comments. If you read my post, I made no mention of our MP's political party - my comments were directed at him as an individual, not his party.

Wherever he may be, even Australia, I think he could still do better than the rather self serving and complacent posts he managed to put out on social media (none of which stated where he was).

And in case you were wondering, no I haven't been affected directly by the floods, but I have been doing what I can to help those who have - together with an awful lot of people from all over the country, many with no connection with the Calder Valley.

Our thanks and respect go out to all of these people, and our hearts go out to all who's lives have been devestated.

It would be nice if Mr Whittaker could have said something along those lines, but sadly he doesn't appear to have done so.

From Vikki Uttley

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Want to thank all the volunteers who helped at Hope Church. You are marvellous, more than marvellous.

You all worked so hard cleaning ripping up wet carpets scraping mud from the garden and front steps bringing brews and food washing kitchen cupboards the list is endless you know who you are... suffice to say tonight Tuesday our sanctuary space is open and we can have our café style service on Sunday... The theme was picked well before Christmas and is 'new beginnings' !

Love and loads of blessings from all at Hope.

From Anthony Rae

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Just (4.15pm Tuesday) bumped into Flooding Minister Rory Stewart – as he was about to shown round the Town Hall clean-up coordination operation by MP Craig Whittaker – so I took the opportunity to introduce myself as someone had been working on flooding resilience in the Calder Valley for a number of years and give him a basic message: 'Although the damage is being done down here in the valley bottom, the real problem is up there on the moorland watersheds, which are not retaining and slowing the quantities of rain they are receiving, due maybe to problems of estate management and the absence of the necessary mechanisms and resources to intervene and solve those problems, both on the moors and the slopes.'

'If we don't solve the problems in those locations, then there'll just be more floods to come. And that we still hadn't had the results of the Environment Agency's computer modelling of the Hebden catchment - which is meant to be disentangling the multiple causes, and possible interventions - commissioned after the 2012 floods.'

I just wanted to make sure he had that message whilst he was here. We had a brief chat with the EA officers accompanying him about the complexities of all this - because it is indeed very complex - and I'll send him a letter so he has it in writing.

From Bob Deacon

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

I am responding to the initial post in this thread concerning the need for civic leadership. I do so in my personal capacity but what I want to say reflects my experience and knowledge as a Trustee of the Hebden Bridge Community Association (HBCA) which runs the Town Hall and as Chair of the Hebden Bridge Partnership (HBP) which represents some forty organisations in Hebden Bridge. I am not making a party political point.

Civic leadership has, I believe, been demonstrated in practice in the past 48 hours by a network of organisations, agencies and voluntary civic initiatives acting out of and based at the Town Hall. The Calder Valley Flood Support group together with HBCA Trustees and officers, officers and councillors of the Hebden Royd Town Council (HRTC) and the Calderdale Neighbourhood office have organised and provided cleaning up teams, food and drink preparation and distribution, support for vulnerable people without electricity, help with filling in claim forms to access the £200 emergency flood relief funds and some evacuation of residents. The Red Cross have managed the kitchens at night. This spontaneous network approach seems to have met the immediate needs of the town. All those wanting to offer help just turn up at the town hall.

The next step will require however a more strategic approach to the rejuvenation of the town. Here a rather more formal kind of civic leadership will be required initially to support businesses in the town to get back on their feet and later to work with the environment agency to prevent further flooding of the town centre. Both of these task present real challenges.

Here I think a coordinated approach will need to be developed involving the HRTC, the HBP, the HBCA and the Hebden Bridge Business Forum working with Calderdale Council. The proposal of the Calderdale Council to establish a Town Board might be the way forward so long as it worked transparently. The first task could be seeking a massive injection of Government funds to support the town and the Upper Calder Valley. I am hopeful some form of coordinated response dealing with this will emerge shortly.

In the longer term detailed work will be needed with the Environment Agency probably to contain Hebden Water and the Calder River behind higher walls in ways which don't detract from the attractiveness of the town. Imaginative use of movable flood barriers on the Wavy Steps might be part of the answer for example. These ideas will need to be supplemented by efforts to retain more water on the tops. Civic leadership in the emergency has arisen spontaneously. Civic leadership for the longer term will require more careful planning between the several organisations who currently contribute to the governance of the town.

From Stephen Curry

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Upper Calder Valley Renaissance board, formally established a business recovery action group this evening to co-ordinate the business response to both CMBC and Government. This consists of representatives of Hebden Bridge Business Forum, Mytholmroyd Business Association, and Todmorden Business Network. Who better than this to represent the businesses of the Calder Valley? This devastation is clearly not just a Hebden issue and the consensus of those in direct touch with businesses is that, for there to be any chance of serious funding for a real recovery (beyond "getting back on their feet") there has to be united voice for the wider business economy. All the above mentioned organisations above were around in 2012. And actually I was a member of two of them. There were a lot of wonderful morale boosting events, but no serious economic recovery co-ordination between community groups of any lasting significance. Most of the people who rushed forward to start initiatives faded away within months. This time the businesses are better organised and are well networked themselves. I fear too many cooks.... So I would suggest they be allowed to lead on the business recovery initiative and the other organisations offer any practical support they are called on for and feel able to offer. You can read more about this initiative here.

From Mark H

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

I for one will not be wasting any time hoping for positive help from our MP. I don't mean the platitudinous help he may be seen to be giving now, but the long term, sensible and disinterested help we'd expect from the person we voted into parliament - twice, if you can believe it - to represent the interests of the Calder Valley community as a whole.

I'm completely behind Anthony Rae in his argument that the acute problems of the valley bottom communities are related to the chronic problems of upland management. If you haven't read his open letter to Craig Whittaker yet (link through Hebweb News), please do so. I'm copying it and sending it to him myself just in case he hasn't seen it. I think he has an obligation as my MP to write back to me with his views. Maybe you could do the same, especially if you are one of the people who earnestly voted for him in the expectation that he would act in the interests of his constituency.

By the way - I took a French friend on a walk over the moors one August day, calling in at a local pub for lunch. The place was full of overstuffed clowns in tweed outfits and laughable ties with pheasants embroidered on them being rude to the pub staff and treating us local folks with complete and utter disdain. My friend was surprised that we hadn't at least gone and let their Landrover tyres down. If only they didn't all have guns....

Flooding problems won't disappear overnight whatever we do. We could just continue to tug our forelocks to grouse shooters and abandon our town centres. I'd suggest we all have a party to celebrate the shooters' continuing interest in our area. A picnic would be good. It'll give us all something to look forward to as we try to rebuild our lives and livelihoods. It would also give us the chance to enter into meaningful debate as to the relative values of bagging a few brace or sandbagging a few towns.

What say we all meet up on Friday August 12 2016 for a walk and picnic on the moors? Bring the kids, and dogs too - on a lead please; there's larks and curlew and all sorts up there.

Even if this one action was not enough to encourage better management of the uplands, it might prove to be the start of a concerted effort to get the whole issue looked at in a dispassionate way.

My grandfather was arrested at the Kinder Trespass, along with hundreds of others. Their action provoked a thorough reexamination of access to the countryside. It is possible that by having a picnic on a grouse moor in 2016 you could play a part in provoking a thorough reexamination of what that access really means.

I'll put reminders and more details about the picnic on Hebweb as the date approaches. I hope to see you there, and so do your grandchildren.

From Adrian Crowther

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

From what I've witnessed this weekend I do not thing any amount of flood defence work in the towns will eradicate flooding entirely - when that much water falls it'll end up in the valley bottom - it's as has been said previously important that cash is spent above towns to try and let nature do what it does best!

I think what is needed, along with proaction is better instant reaction. The Calder Valley Flood Support group has been a brilliant source of information and the wider community has been just amazing in it's efforts - I've felt very proud of this little town (i'm a bit of an in-come-er, Halifax born and bred, lived her 18 months).

My points are:

  • Why - 72 hours after the waters subsided were the lights still off? When calling in the troops, could we also call in an industrial plant generator to enable arc lights to be set up, pumps operated and heaters and dehumidifiers going to work as soon as they're needed.
  • Why - 72 hours after the water subsided are people still begging for sandbags?
  • Why isn't there an emergency store of pumps, heaters and dehumidifiers?
  • Things too, like recommencing regular gutter cleans - not just in the valley bottoms but all roads in the area to try and get as much surface water away as possible?
  • Are there grants available for people to have pumps fitted in basements and cellars in vulnerable properties, and grants to allow vulnerable properties to have fuse boxes and boilers relocated in upstairs spaces?

Just a few of my thoughts - feel free to pick apart as necessary !

From Chris Barnett

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

I 've just done some inspections of properties in Hebden Bridge which were flooded on Boxing Day.

One was a house at Mayroyd Mill, a 2002 development by Mango. The flood risk assessment which formed part of the planning application stated that the ground floors should be above the 1 in 100 year flood level, and that escape from the houses in the event of such a flood would be via the escape windows onto the Rochdale Canal towpath.

On Boxing Day, the ground floor was flooded to approx 50mm, and water from the canal was lapping at the kitchen windows facing onto the towpath.

I'm obviously not suggesting that Mango didn't fully comply with the conditions of the planning approval, but does this not say something about the inadequacy of the flood risk assessment and the process of granting planning approval in flood risk areas?

From Nigel Wilcock

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd will always flood as it has in the past and building high walls on river banks can never work when flooding is bad. Just look at Todmorden for example.

A better approach in my view is to make grants available to help people make their homes and buisnesses flood proof like rendering walls, sealing floors, fitting flood pumps, raising electrical equipment etc. I agree with Adrian Crowthers suggestions as well.

I would also like to thank all the volunteers who came out and helped like the ones on New Road in Mytholmroyd who were offering help and making and handing out sandwiches and drinks. I can't thank them enough.

From Anne H

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Chris, to me this suggests that either this is the 1 in 100 year event or maybe flooding of this severity now happens more frequently - as climate scientists have been telling us - in which case the specifications should be changed to take this into account!

From Jon Tattersall

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

I hope there will be an enquiry into the effect and the effectiveness of the flood prevention measures that have take place since 2012.

A lot of the ones I have seen seem designed to increase the flow from the hillsides down to Hebden water : see for example the empty mill pond at Nutclough and the improvement of the culvert,draining it into Hebden Water (I think)

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Picking up on Jon's point about Nutclough Wood, it was only the culvert entrance that was re-engineered and not the culvert itself, which runs under Keighley Road and Nutclough Mill into Hebden Water. As far as I'm aware, the culvert has not been widened - that would be a huge undertaking - so all the 'improvement' has done is increase the capacity of the bath without making the plughole any bigger.

As a result, on Boxing Day there was very nearly a rerun of 2012, when floodwater created - at frightening speed - a new dam that then spilled over into Keighley Road and blitzed the centre of town. That it didn't happen this time was probably because the flood risk reduction works were new and there was no build-up of debris to stop the culvert taking water away. If the imposing new grille is not regularly cleared of debris, it may soon be little better than the previous arrangement. Even if it is cleared, in a biblical deluge it might take only minutes for tree branches and other material to cover the grille and impede flow to the culvert.

There are also at least two other ways that have not been addressed in which flood water could exit Nutclough Wood on to Keighley Road. Even after all the millions that have been spent on improvements, Nutclough Wood remains a time-bomb because only half a job has been done.

From Eleanor Land

Thursday, 31 December 2015

I want to thank Anthony for doorstepping Rory Stewart because our government need to start recognizing that their policies thus far seem to favour landowners interests over town and village dwellers.

As for our MP, whether in the country or not, he is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard when representing the best interests of the Upper Valley.

We need long term planning with regard to flooding, it is time for our government to start listening. It is a disgrace that they have made cuts in this area.

From Andrew Marsh

Thursday, 31 December 2015

The water that causes flooding, whilst generally all falls from the sky, comes in many different forms and falls in many different places. The floods in 2012 are not the same as the 2015 floods or previous floods. Where the water falls, how much, how quickly, the state of the catchment all play a part. Designing flood alleviation measures for many different scenarios is not a simple matter.

Of course the effect of flooding whatever the cause are the same. The disruption to normal life and the cost, emotional as well as financial, is not changed by the cause. Clearing drains on Central street is good practice but would have made no difference in a flood of this magnitude. Speeding water through Hebden Bridge would have caused more flooding downstream.

The solution is to manage water on a catchment wide basis and as part of a coordinated plan. Making homes, businesses and individuals more resilient to flooding is essential. Planning for the potential risk of flooding when allowing development is not only needed but common sense.
Will this be costly? Yes, will it happen? Probably not. Will we continue to suffer because of this, almost certainly.

Why? Because the vast majority of people and politicians are not directly affected so its not their problem. They will come and make promises, have their pictures taken, shake hands go back to their warm dry homes drink a glass of wine and watch themselves on TV and wonder if they could have done their hair better orblooked a bit muddier or maybe have been leaning on a shovel.

Sorry but unless we change nothing else will.

But underneath all the bling the communities are learning, becoming more resilient, working together, helping each other out selflessly. So sod the politicians. Don't ask them. Tell them. They work for us not the other way round.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Tarmac is definitely not a good surface material for steep roads prone to flooding, especially when laid over cobbles. The stuff just peels off in strips that can cause damage or injury a long way downhill and add to clean-up problems. Cobbles mostly stay put. I'm not suggesting cobbles good, tarmac bad, but we seem to be in urgent need of hillside road surfaces that behave more like cobbles and less like tarmac.

From Simon Goff

Thursday, 31 December 2015

If there were some reservoirs in the the hills they could be used to control the flow of rivers such as Hebden Water. During periods of high rainfall water they would intercept runoff which could be held back in the reservoirs and later released.

Of course these reservoirs exist already! The six reservoirs at Widdop,Walshaw and Gorple could be used to manage flows in Hebden Water if Yorkshire Water are willing to cooperate in managing the catchment, instead of concerning themselves only in keeping our reservoirs filled to the brim.

From David Gee

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Whilst I agree an argument will need to be held with our political leaders over their mis management of farming and flood prevention policies, as well as insurance industry regulation and management, this can wait a week or two.

For now, I would like to place on record - as someone affected by this catastrophic event - my thanks to the dozens of helpers, paid staff of the Council, Government agencies and private companies who have pulled together to help in what is a grim situation for many, and especially a massive thank you to the countless volunteers who have given their time, money and goodwill to assist.

What a remarkable human effort that demonstrates how strong our community is and also how much support we can rely on from the wider general public in times of adversity, long may it be remembered and I also know the people here will help others when the need arises. Many thanks, well done to everyone involved so far and Happy New Year.

From Julie C

Friday, 1 January 2016

Graham, you're so right about Tarmac on the hilltop roads. In 2012 the torrent peeled off the surface of the little road that comes down from the Hare and Hounds and joins Sandy Gate. That road was like a river again this time, the water itself crossing straight over into Nutclough valley below. Last time before the road was repaired I noticed that it was cobbled underneath, the old surface was in good shape, and included at intervals up the slope a series of those angled run-offs (I can't remember what they're called), these mini drains across the road were then designed to direct a good portion of the flow of water through the wall into the field at the side through specially created gaps in the wall. Trouble is the whole system was covered over with Tarmac, the run offs therefore disappeared, plus the holes in the wall were all blocked up. I guess it's a scenario that could be repeated on many of the upland roads.
There was a set up created many decades ago that helped. I know it would cost money to reinstate and keep it up, but clearly it'd be cheaper and less painful than pouring every single drop landing on the hills directly into the living rooms of the folk below.

From Michael Murray Elder

Friday, 1 January 2016

Another aspect of the problem is that with the changes in farming practice the old field drains have collapsed in many places and there is no mechanism in place for repairing them. Hence more run-off.

From Gwen Goddard

Friday, 1 January 2016

I wholeheartedly support the praise and thanks that David Gee has expressed for what local people, the council and the emergency services have done. But let us also recognise the extraordinary help we have received from Muslim and Sikh communities around the country. Mosques in our local cities sent food and working parties who seemed prepared to do anything. Those portions of curry, 500 a day I believe, were donated by the Sikh community in Slough and were driven up daily from there. And Muslims for Humanity, a young people's charity, recruited young men from all over the country and they came to do anything and everything that was asked of them, always with a smile.

And most of all I would like to praise and thank the staff of the Town Hall and the coordinators of the voluntary effort for managing so efficiently what could have been complete chaos.

From David Tut

Saturday, 2 January 2016

What a great job the staff and volunteers have done at the Town Hall have done from someone who had no electric or heating for 4 days. These people of whom I have never met or even seen before made me proud to be born and bred in Hebden Bridge. Just a pity the new year's honours list is already done? Happy new year.

From Carole Turner

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Interesting article:

Guardian: "This flood was not only foretold – it was publicly subsidised," by George Monbiot

From Paul Fielden

Sunday, 3 January 2016

I have had my house flooded 4 times in 10 years. I've improved my house flood defence and next time I don't think it will effect my house as I will design the problem away.

I've a few ideas and thoughts. Just this one for now. If a person pays thousands of pounds for a day's shooting and the road his fancy big 4 X 4 is blocked stopping them enjoying their day's shooting. How many times will he put up with this before going somewhere else to enjoy a day's shooting. Then a land owner with a bad reputation for organising a days shooting may think of ways to unblock the road!

We know the days they're going and the roads they use. All my roads get blocked sometimes stoping me getting emergency equipment to save my home and belongings, food and medicine for my family or to go help relatives alone and scared in the dark. It makes me do all sorts to stop that road blocking again!

From George Murphy

Monday, 4 January 2016

This is an existential threat to towns in the Upper Calder valley. Or at least to the waterside heart of these communities. The floods are increasing, not just in terms of their number, but also their severity. What will probably happen in the near future?

The incidence of "extreme weather events" will increase in line with predictions made by environmental scientists. Politicians have only pledged to slow the rate of global warming. So at best, it will get worse more slowly.

Landed interests will probably prevent the rewilding of upland areas, despite evidence that this might curtail the devastating effects of record rainfall levels.

Civil engineering projects have protected huge populations on the Thames and the Clyde, but small communities such as ours will probably continue to miss out; though the size of the outlay on heightening barriers and relandscaping on the Calder, the Hebden and the Colden would be much less. Such work isn't very sexy. Flood prevention work gets noticed when it fails.

So it's probably going to get worse. But it could, possibly, be different...
As a nation, we might decide that ancient riverside settlements and old industrial towns are worth protecting. We might prioritise flood barriers, collection pools and reforestation over new high speed rail links. Politicians might do this if the people demanded it.

We might elect politicians who believe in the realities of global warming and pledge to fight against cuts in council and Environment Agency budgets - even here in Calder Valley! It's not probable… but it is possible.

From Paul Fielden

Monday, 4 January 2016


I am not a expert in the field of tanking, just a homeowner who continues to fight the threat of floods because our authorities won't. My cellar on industrial street the drain backs up and fills cellar. When river is 3/4 full it starts.

I've been told it's because drains can't cope with the volume. I am seeking proof of this as I disagree totally. I think the surface water drain is level with the old river top and runs into river so when river gets to level of bottom of our flood defence wall, the drains begin to back up. Anyone who knows where or how to get drawings of town drains please get in touch.

Back to tanking, I've capped off drain had wall tanked and this worked. This flood my cellar didn't fill up till my half underground window filled up from underneath. This has never happened before. I suspected only way in was a bathroom leak or window in a major storm so I had a pump. It got plugged in and was working till the power went off! I see now this was a school boy error. I should have had petrol/battery pump. I know the tanking worked as I couldn't get to my house till 20 hours later and leval stayed the same.

Anyone wishing to come look at my system, talk through it or want contacts, they're very welcome.

I am a plumber by trade so happy to help discuss describe how you get waste water out with no drain and a sealed room.

My cellar was chemical tanked and if you're prepared to prep your building as the company describes like I did, you only pay for the technical bit you need a professional for! It is not as expensive as people fear but in my opinion there's not enough advice on this kind of thing. I got ripped of by a system that was pointless when I first bought my house because there's no advice on this kind of thing.

Even if your just curious about my system but don't think you will go with it as your looking at others, you're very welcome to come look

From Sara Fitzgerald

Monday, 4 January 2016

An interesting article re North pickering and flood defences.

UK flooding: How a Yorkshire town worked with nature to stay dry

I read this article and thought it was interesting and contains ideas that Hebden could possibly use. Not suggesting that it's the whole answer, but it might be part of it. The cost would be relatively small for something that could make a big difference.

From David Mack

Monday, 4 January 2016

Paul, you can view a computer record of the public sewer map at Calderdale's Halifax Customer First.

For a paper copy of the map you have to contact Yorkshire Water.

See this web page

From Paul Fielden

Monday, 4 January 2016

Thanks David

The ones online were not clear. I have rung Yorkshire water and they just told me something very interesting.The way Yorkshire Waters flood figures are calculated is from complaints.So every time you flood you have to complain. It helps them decide where to invest.

I would not be surprised if I am the only one who doesn't know this on here but they've received 6 complaints from my street when everyone was effected (84). It's great how they can charge us for these drains and when they fail they can get away with saying don't know unless we complain.

The rules and regulations are all tipped against us. If I put 10,000 litres of water down the drain I have to notify them in writing first (water regulations 1999) Yorkshire water put 40000 litres of waste water up my drain for the 4th time never have they notified me. Even a Victorian drain can have non return valves fitted. Calderdales flood plan said they need making larger at a cost of 38 million. What a joke. No drain in the world can hold the River Calder, the design of the river is wrong.

I've watched 40,000 litres empty down them small drains. Trust me it's very fast. In my opinion, they just need upgrading with non return valves but what do I know. I am only a qualified plumber spent 4 years at college and play a big part in keeping HRI Hospital drains running.

From Adrian Riley

Monday, 4 January 2016

At the source of the River Calder above Portsmouth, Rattan Clough is a major source of water which runs under the main road before reaching the railway line and forming the river.

In this lower field there was a vast area of land that acted as a catchment/storage area after heavy rain. All this area has recently been used as landfill and no longer holds back any water. It is instances like this which are actively making matters worse. This whole area below Ratten Clough could hold a vast amount of water if done properly. The site may belong to the Railway (who I suspect used it as a convenient landfill)and is 100 yards into Lancashire.

Similarly in the Walsden Valley near the source of the river at Warland, the Environment Agency purchased a large area of land with the specific aim to create a large holding area for water. This was about 10 years ago and no work was ever done even though they had architects plans. The EA said it wasn't necessary with all the other works they were doing. Perhaps they would like to think again?

From Liz Anstee

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Hello everyone. Really interesting thread here. My point is about collective action to get a better response from government both central and local to what's required to rebuild the community post flooding. I've been reading some really confusing information on the Calder Valley Flood site about who will benefit from the reconstruction fund and it looks like the amounts promised in match funding are for all areas and not just the Calder Valley. And that businesses won't be able to access it. And is it only me that finds the match funding idea offensive? We are not building a football pitch. We have paid for in our council and income taxes to be supported when we need it.

There is money available. The country is not bankrupt. The council has reserves for events such as this (have a look at Calderdale accounts on their website). The government has money. it's becoming evident that people affected are going to have to fend for themselves. Councillors and our MP are retreating behind their official roles. The town needs to organise and collectively pressurise for a better response. Are there people who support my view out there? Are there groups forming already that I am unaware of?

From Paul Fielden

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Liz, tried replying to you but you've left your email off.

The business associations of Tod, Royd & Hebden are getting together and going to the authorities. You're bang on. At least 20 flood defence ideas from local people just on here. I've lived here all my life, walked the moors, walked up Hebden Water from Hebden to Crags (yes in the river) and witnessed where the flood is coming from.

Yes record rain but that's not a excuse to hide behind, just a bigger challenge. If over the whole valley all the rain is expected to be dealt with by the river traveling 300 knots an hour, God help us. We know how to defend our towns. It's about time we told them because they're not asking! Am with you Liz!

From Philip Macdougall

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

I have been coming to Hebden Bridge now for some 25 years and I guess its my 2nd home and so today Tuesday, 5th January and having free time I came by train to offer what help I could. It wasn't much. But in the time I was there I saw so many wonderful people working alongside each other and from different towns in different counties it made my chest swell with pride for you beautiful people and I pray you can all get back to being in your shops quickly. If I was younger (I am 68) I would stay over and do what I can but I will be praying for better times for you all

From Johnny Stewart

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

I live in Walsden and luckily our house was not flooded. We could see the efforts of neighbours to divert the torrent of surface water pouring down Inchfield Rd threatening to inundate their homes. In Hebden and Mytholmroyd people worked together trying to lessen or contain the impact as well as supporting those directly affected and providing relief.

I've spent the evening reading this thread on the recent flooding in the Upper Calder Valley and can count at least 15 posts each of which makes in its own way one key point not addressed by the 'flood defences' programmes of the political elites. The inundation of the valley towns starts from too rapid run-off from the surrounding moorland.

Carole Turner (2.1.16) points us to the Monbiot articles which argues the scientific case for different upland management. Can I suggest another article from the organiser of the Oxford Real Farming Conference, Colin Tudge: 'We can't control floods - or drought - unless we involve the farmers'? It has just been issued to the public. Read it here.

I trust in the future we will understand better the elemental forces that lead to Boxing Day 2015 and work with the ecological systems to relieve the terrible consequences of not doing so. If our politicians would only accept and act on that vision maybe they would prove themselves worthy of our democratic right to elect them.

From Anthony Rae

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Calder Future (the river partnership for Calderdale) and Friends of the Earth are organising a public meeting on 'Calder Valley Flooding – Causes and Solutions', on Thursday 21st January, 2016 7-9.30pm, in the Birchcliffe Centre Hebden Bridge HX7 8DG. It'll be in two parts.

Part 1 (7-8.30) will identify what we both know and don't know about what might be the causes of and solutions to local flooding, and what we need to do in 2016 to resolve this uncertainty and get some action. We'll explore the range of views people have, from 'more dredging', 'more flood barriers', to 'better upland management' etc. Many of these issues, and some of the responses to flooding now being trialled elsewhere, have already been mentioned in this thread.

Part 2 (8.30-9.30) will examine the wider issues about the connection between flooding and climate change & energy issues, covered in the Calderdale FOE Open Letter to Craig Whittaker MP 'Calder Valley under Water: Sacrificed to Indifference and Political Ideology'.

Speakers at the meeting will be confirmed but you can keep up-to-date on this, and other flooding news and information, at Calderdale Friends of the Earth Facebook page. Further information from ar@anthonyrae.com.

From Michael Horne

Thursday, 7 January 2016

On a daily basis I walk along the riverside path at Salem, (Hebden Water) continuing to the bowling club before heading uphill. On Wednesday, the water level had dropped quite a lot, which worryingly showed the riverbed has risen by approximately 1 to 2 feet in places, because of the detritus, (medium to large boulders and smaller debris) deposited by the receding floodwater.

I imagine this is probably the case in other areas of the river as it courses through the town, which is concerning as it surely increases the risk of future flooding, (and potentially resulting from less extreme rainfall as the riverbed is higher).

I am not qualified or knowledgeable enough to suggest possible practical remedies, but at the very least it makes the building development by the Little Park, (just downstream from Salem) with its access breaching a flood resistant wall even more ludicrous and dangerous, especially for those of us living in that area of town.

From Chris Hayes

Saturday, 9 January 2016

There are important issues that very few people seem to have considered in the race to recently cover the moorland above the Calder Valley with enormous wind farms. And that is flooding due to rapid rainwater runoff, as intensive farming, overgrazing, heather burning, loss of bracken and widespread planting of forestry and footpath construction, all of which increase the flood risk downstream. But this is nothing compared to the effects of recently covering the South Pennine Uplands above Todmorden and other areas with concrete and other impermeable surfaces. Enormous quantities of concrete have been used to anchor numerous huge 300ft 150 ton (plus) wind turbines, together with the bases for ancillary buildings, electricity substations and associated pylons. Impermeable surfaces in the form of many miles of tracks, across the uplands linking turbines, and the associated extensive road works to allow access to the area for the turbine components and enormous transformers inevitably increases the potential for faster run-off. In many parts of England, homeowners now have to apply for planning permission to lay impermeable surfaces, such as paving, in recognition of their role in increasing the speed of rainwater run-off. There is no doubt that the construction of these wind turbines have contributed to the flooding in the Calder Valley and the speed that the rivers rise to severe levels and then return to normal very quickly.

From Paul S

Saturday, 9 January 2016

It has become clear to me in recent weeks that there is no chance of the local or national government investing money in defending the Calder Valley from further flooding.

Evidence of this (if evidence is needed) can be found in David Cameron's response to Jeremy Corbyn in Prime Minister's questions earlier this week. Leaving aside how enraged I am that Cameron would make jokes when challenged on the issue, it raises some broader questions.

I think the only way we are going to defend our homes from further flooding is through grass roots community action. With this in mind, once my own family is back in our house, we are going to invest in hundreds of willow trees.

These will be planted at the river sides, on waste ground and on higher ground. I am in the process of obtaining permission to plant trees from some of the farmers in the upper reaches of the Calder Valley.

It isn't a quick fix but it works. If all of the 15,000 people in the Calder Valley planted trees in the right places, flooding would be a thing of the past.

It is obvious to anyone with half a brain that the environment agency and central
government don't care about Hebden Bridge. If we want to save our homes co-ordinated community action will be required.

In my opinion (and this is just my opinion) Craig Whittaker, David Cameron and others will laugh in our faces as our homes, valued possessions and livelihoods are washed down the Calder. We need to act together to ensure that recent events are not repeated.

From Chris K

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Judging from George Monbiot's blog above dredging will simply shunt the problem further down the system to our sister towns.

The permaculture answer is to slow the whole water system down further up the headwaters.

There are some brilliant volunteer groups like treesponsibility.com who are on with the tree planting in the area but we really could do with coheasive representaion about our concerns towards farmers that now have freedom to speed up flow off of their lands into our - err - laps, as it were.

From Harvey Cheetham

Sunday, 10 January 2016

See floodsandgravel.co.uk/Calder for what may be causing your floods.

From Ashton L

Sunday, 10 January 2016

I have been told we should look at Pickering.

See this Forest Research web page

From Julie C

Monday, 11 January 2016

Now is the right time to plant willow cuttings. Any time after the leaves have fallen, and before the leaves bud, between now and early March, just cut a 2 foot length and stick it into the ground to about half its depth.

Clear the weeds around the base of the cutting.

Rather than hang about waiting for someone else to do it, just pop it in if you know a good spot, away from buildings, culverts and drains, please check it is ok with the landowner.

From Judith Clayton

Monday, 11 January 2016

Can I urge those who have not yet done so to sign Mark Avery's petition against driven grouse shooting.

Anyone who has read George Monbiot's article in The Guardian, will understand the impact of this activity on our moorland and the consequent effects on flooding in the valleys. Please help to get this petition to 100,000 signatures so as to trigger a debate in Parliament.

From Clare Raido

Monday, 11 January 2016

Floods Listening Ear - If you need to talk about your experiences of the most recent and/or previous floods and the ongoing impact of the flooding on your lives, get in touch with us.

We are a group of 4 therapists from Hebden Bridge and Todmorden who are coordinating a response to the floods. We are offering up to three sessions of up to one hour each to speak in confidence with a skilled listener. The sessions are free of charge. We will support links with other services and will set up ongoing local self help groups as a resource for people moving on. We are Jen Altman, Clare Pearl, Tom Higgins and Clare Raido. Get in touch with us and one of will respond to you to take next steps. We are also offering sessions for children and young people.

From Paul S

Monday, 11 January 2016

I have e-mailed Mike Potter from Pickering who has been quoted extensively in the national press on the subject of how the residents of Pickering prevented their town from flooding.

I have asked him to share insights on what we, the community of Hebden Bridge, could do to prevent a repeat of the events of Boxing day.

It feels a bit daunting to take action but if we take a leaf out of Pickering's book and we all pull together there is nothing that cannot be achieved.

If he responds, I will share his insights at the Birchcliffe centre on 21st.


From Frances Minto

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

I was called up on boxing day morning and drove back from Keighley over the tops. My home in Mytholmroyd, was not flooded but we were cut off, lost electricity and was warned of lack of water. What was really difficult is that you couldn't see in real time what the situation was at that time. It would be really helpful to have access to CCTV view of the river and flooding in real time. I would suggest that it would be really useful to be able to see the river level, via computor, at say:The Stubbing Wharf, the wavy steps and the river guage at the Caldene Bridge, Mytholmroyd. This would be a relatively cheap as there are many cameras around the place, and provide reassurance when the river is OK and up to the minute information when the next flood comes along.

From Paul Clarke

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Just had Cllr Dave Young at the door with someone from Community Foundation for Calderdale with a cheque from the Foundation to help with flood damage.

Their unexpected visit was much appreciated on a very cold night as I was wondering when I could down to the Town Hall to sign for it.

Thanks to Dave and the Foundation as having this money will really help us out.

From John Rhodes

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Frances if you follow this link. it is the river levels monitoring station at the Stubbing Wharf. It's updated at least hourly so you are able to see the increase in river levels… and on Boxing Day it was scary.

From David Mack

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Environment Agency link John Rhodes has given only shows the last 48 hours data. An alternative is here which shows the last month, including the Boxing Day flood. By selecting different options you can see data back to March 2014.

From Anthony Rae

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The 'Calderdale Petition: 'Mr Cameron – Where are our flood schemes?' is now online. When you sign please also 'Share on Facebook' .

Today's Yorkshire Post has this story: 'No extra money on the table for flood defences. Minister insists budgets set for the next six years' (the online headline appears to relate just to Leeds), which makes the demand of the petition even more essential.

And just a note about what tonight's public meeting 'Calder Valley Flooding: Causes and Solutions' is not. It's a community meeting, and not one called by the Council or Environment Agency, where some aspects of accountability might be involved. And it's not an 'inquest', into why this or that organisation did or didn't do something during the flood or the recovery. There will be legitimate questions about that but I think they should be submitted to the recently announced Calderdale Floods Commission which is the right place for those. So we won't be considering questions about those aspects.

But it will be an opportunity to find out more about what 'we know and don't know about the causes of and solutions to local flooding, and what we need to do in 2016 to resolve this uncertainty and get some action'.

There'll be plenty ways to ask questions and make comments both at the meeting and online afterwards, and then to discuss what action we should take, as a community.

From Paul S

Friday, 22 January 2016

Firstly - thanks to Anthony Rae for organising the community event yesterday at the Birchcliffe centre.

As I didn't get the chance to speak, I thought I would post my two or three observations on this forum.

  1. Professor Nick Odini was referred to by one of the speakers as an authority on hydrology. He is also the man who masterminded the flood defences at Pickering. As most of us know these were natural flood defences built by members of the community with their own hands but via a collaborative process with the council and environment agency.
  2. Nick and Mike Potter have offered to share their experience with us and to work with the community / environment agency to draw up a natural flood defence plan. If this needs to be an "expert" process as Anthony suggests, then why don't we take them up on this offer and get them along to the next meeting?
  3. iI will be impossible to get this to work if 300 people are all clamouring to be heard. Do we need some leadership here? Ie a steering committee of members of the community to drive this forward. There was a mention of a council team which had community representation on it which was news to me. Do we have the "right" people on it with the "right" qualifications / expertise (we may do - I don't know) And who appointed these people to represent us?
  4. What is abundantly obvious is we need at least £8m more funding just to protect Hebden Bridge. One chap last night suggested that Calderdale council had the reserves to deal with this. Is this right? If not, what alternatives (other than political lobbying) are available to us. The suggestion of applying for EU funds was made. who should do this?

Could we set up a crowd-funding website to try and close the funding gap. 8m is a big number but not when it is divided by the number of Calder Valley residents. I detected a strong sense of utter pessimism from the Council as regards funding from central government - therefore - why don't we all close the gap?


From Phil G

Friday, 22 January 2016

I would second the thanks to the organisers and attendees at last night's meeting. There was some useful and informative discussion. I'm sure there was a lot that people wanted to say that there was not time to hear.

I would take issue with one of the early comments in the presentation that this problem is only 26 days old (referring to the time elapsed since Boxing Day). Flooding in Calderdale has been a problem requiring a solution since at least 2012 and the response to date has been inadequate across the board. The indicative time scales discussed last night will provide little comfort to residents and businesses, aside from the issues regarding the lack of funding. Something needs to be done whilst there are still towns here to defend.

Whilst the events of Boxing Day were exceptional they were not entirely unpredicted. Environmental experts have been predicting an increase in extreme weather events for some time now. Unfortunately the response of the EA and Calderdale thus far has been reactive rather than pre-emptive.

There will be lots of questions regarding who, how and when solutions will be delivered. My main question, which I was not able to ask last night, is how is this information being communicated to the public? Flood defence work has been done since 2012 but most people I know are not aware of it. I take an active interest and have struggled to find information. Hopefully last night's meeting will trigger some better community engagement.

From Julie C

Friday, 22 January 2016

A flood subgroup for each small catchment might help.

So - Elphin, Nutclough, Hebden Water, Colden, Jumble Hole etc. The mini group to look at the Watershed, moors, fields, roads, cloughs, woods, dams, from the top to where it joins the River Calder, or major Calder tributary.

The usual, and the spate flows, investigation of where we might want the water to run/be held, and where water ran and broke out this time would be useful.

Talking with the elderly farmers and other older residents would help in finding out about the old and often derelict land and water management systems in the area.

It might then be manageable in terms of research, size of group, and opportunity for useful involvement by our resourceful community.

The Environment Agency tend to focus on the water as it arrives in the valley. We all know that most of the water ending up in someone's living room or business in the bottom started off up in the hills above.

From Jenny G

Friday, 22 January 2016

I'd also like to add my thanks and appreciation to the organisers of and speakers at the meeting at Birchcliffe yesterday evening, and to all the people who added their contributions from the floor.

With so many contributions to the meeting, I didn't get opportunity to ask my question and so I'd like to post it here.

My question is:

Can anybody clarify the position regarding the sewage in the flood water??

How did the sewage get into the water? Can it be prevented?

Can anybody clarify the extent of additional damage done by the sewage, on top of damage done by muddy water? In terms of financial loss, and in terms of public health.

Can anybody clarify whether the Government allocates additional funding to help communities affected by sewage in addition to flooding?

Can anybody clarify the situation regarding who is responsible for the fact that sewage enters the floodwater? And whether whoever is responsible is putting any financial contribution into the pot to help recovery from damage done?

These are my questions. I wrote them on the question sheet at the meeting and handed it in. On returning home after the meeting I emailed these questions to our MP.

From Anthony Rae

Friday, 22 January 2016

We knew it would be impossible to take everyone's question or comment at the meeting - and thank you to an almost entirely well-behaved audience for containing their frustration - so that's why we devised two methods for putting questions at the meeting itself (the second being the paper slips that Jenny G refers to), and we're now devising an online tool to allow everyone to give their views. Until that's up, sending them to Hebweb allows other people to see the range of issues.

We wanted an early meeting, providing at least basic facts and figures, to be just the start of a conversation about flooding causes and solutions that will have to occupy us all throughout 2016. Or certainly up to 26th June which is the deadline set in the online petition launched to coincide with the meeting: 'Mr Cameron: where are our flood schemes?!' To quote its core demand:

'… If businesses are to reinvest, homeowners to restore the properties, and local economies to bounce back rather than decay they need to know that flood prevention schemes have been designed, fully funded and approved by your government. The clock is ticking because the next flood could be tomorrow, whilst flood schemes take years to implement. 3½ more delay as happened after the 2012 floods just won't do. So by 26th June 2016 - the 6 month anniversary of the 2015 floods - we say it's your responsibility to make these Calder Valley schemes happen.'

So the single most important next step and action everyone can take is to sign the petition, share it with Facebook friends when you do, add a personal comment or story because the first ones are fantastic, and also think how you can spread it through the networks or organisations of which you are members.

The significance of the way the petition is worded is that it does address the question of funding that Paul S writes about. Money might be available from all sorts of sources, but isn't it the job of government to coordinate the flooding funding package and make sure it's sufficient?

Phil G's question is 'how is this information being communicated to the public?', and the existence of this communication gap is something I referred to at the public meeting, and previously pointed out at the Calderdale Cabinet special flood meeting on 11th January, where that point was accepted by the Leader of the Council. Making sure that gap is filled is one of our objectives.

Some were kind enough to thank me, and I'm sure you would wish to extend that to the team of environmental campaigners from Calderdale Friends of the Earth and Calder Future who all worked on the event; and (in relation to the former) will be continuing to campaign on the wider connections between flooding and climate change & energy issues which were the subject of my Open Letter to Craig Whittaker MP.

From Mark Astbury

Saturday, 23 January 2016

It seems to me that the newly installed Nutclough flood defences are a short sighted response to the effects of the July 2012 flash floods so that surface water and the stream that runs through Nutclough wood are now directed as quickly and efficiently as possible into the Hebden Water. Surely this must increase the volume of water the Hebden Water and the Calder have to cope with in a given period of time and infact increase the risk of flooding in the town centre rather than defend against it.

Perhaps we should look at reviving the many mill ponds there were around the valley to store and manage the flow of water from the tops, and even if they cannot store extra water in times of high rainfall provide deep water ponds to absorb the energy of fast flowing streams that feed the Calder and therefore regulate the flow downstream.

From Nigel W

Sunday, 24 January 2016

With the talk about flooding and ways to help stop the impact of them i was shocked to find last week a planning application 15/01397/OUT come through my letter box.

This application in short is to build up to 5 houses on the old Scar Bottom Mill Dam Mytholmroyd, next to the Brook. This old dam has now become a soakaway full of mature trees and helps keep water up stream in severe weather.

Nearby residents attended a Parish Council planning meeting on 20th January where it was unanimously rejected. But still has to go before Calderdale Planning Committee in February.

You can see the full Planning Application by going on the Calderdale web site entering the number above and commenting if you feel strongly about it.

A similar application in 2005, 05/00302/OUT was submitted and rejected by both Councils and the Environment Agency. Hopefully after the two major floods of 2012 and Boxing Day it will be rejected again.
If we help protect these sites and build similar projects up stream of the valley bottoms we may go some way to help stop the severity of these floods which are now becoming more common.

From Chris B

Sunday, 24 January 2016

It would be nice to think that this planning application is refused, but judging by Calderdale Planners' past performance this cannot be assumed.

They are currently getting a bit of a kicking over giving permission for the Victoria Road development in Hebden Bridge, and hopefully will have learned a lesson from that fiasco.

It might be worth starting a new thread to monitor this proposal.

From Jenny G

Sunday, 24 January 2016

It seems the RSPB have a plan to reintroduce sphagnum moss onto the uplands in part of the Peak District...

I have just picked up the following posting on Calderdale Birds

This looks very interesting.......

Looks like there are plenty of areas around the Pennines where this would be a good idea for encouraging wildlife and retain water in the hills !
Well done the RSPB

There is also a good link on BirdGuides about this project.

I wonder if it could be possible to somehow link in with RSPB resources??

From Mark Astbury

Monday, 25 January 2016

I have been amazed at how some people have bounced back and re-opened shops in the town.

I did raise the issue of local shopping with the Co-op and that I felt the response to the flooding of the store seemed an inadequate business recovery plan given the store might be closed for some months.

I was therefore disappointed to recieve the email below as a response. Firstly because it does not address the problem caused by the closure of one of the main food shops in Hebden, secondly because it was in "business speak" and it was obvious that the main body of the email was a cut and paste (you could tell this because the text was in a different font).

Dear Mr. Astbury,

Thank you for contacting the Co-operative Careline regarding the reopening of your local store in Hebden Bridge.

Due to the extensive operation in place to ready the store for business, we are currently aiming to reopen towards the end of February although is constantly under review.

Should you require a specific item not available in the pop up shops, you can speak to a member of the management team who will be more than happy to arrange for this to be ordered in for you.

I would like to thank you for your patience during this matter.

If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Kind regards,


Is this an adequate response on behalf of a socially responsible business not only considering the number of members it has in this town but also in commercial terms regarding the amount of lost sales during the closure of the shops in Hebden and Mytholmroyd and the loss of customers who will make alternative arrangements during the current difficulties and who will not return to using the co-op?

From Robin Gray

Monday, 25 January 2016

I presented at the public meeting that Anthony organised on Thursday. I have posted my presentation on our website.

Absolutely we should learn from good examples around the country. I have suggested a workshop with guests ( this country has some of the best academics in the world working in this area ).

Pickering has been mentioned so many times and it has all the ingredients of Natural Flood Management including the 'treatment train or network of solutions', the hydrological modelling and the strong community support- but we are a different 'cake' in terms of topography, land ownership and rainfall events. Another ingredient at Pickering was a large public landowner within the catchment in the form of the Forestry Commission who implemented and took liability for many of the works. We would need a different mechanism in this catchment to work with a myriad of smaller and some larger landowners.

Talk of Natural Flood Management as 'either natural' / 'or heavily engineerd' is misleading. NFM works when combined with engineered schemes ( indeed they include 'engineered' elements in the form of bunds themselves- the 'natural' element tends to mislead).

Scientific evidence is there that NFM does work on small catchments  and medium sized events - but ( not necessarily) on larger catchments and more extreme events - although more attenuation is more often than not is good no matter how small ...especially if that attenuation is protecting your property. (There are exceptions to this rule as experts would point out - in Pickering, I believe, it was not exclusively 'slowing the flow').

Any flood mitigation scheme is only as strong as its weakest link whether this is a sewer that can no longer discharge, a canal embankment, an obstruction or a low point in the floodplain. (Pity you if this is your business or home).

The lady makes the point about effluent. For most part, this is the unfortunate legacy of Combined Sewer Outfalls when drains carried both effluent and storm water i.e. developments from before the 1970s. More recent development seperates out storm water. Since 2010 developments of greater than ten houses have to show how they will address surface water on or off site as part of their planning consent. Hence the discussion on Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems and a lack of an England-wide mechanism on adoption (reported in the Independent article).

I made reference to Yorkshire Water at the meeting. They are significant stakeholder in any solutions both to their underground network and at source/ Working alongside the Environment Agency and Calderdale Council. It would have been good to hear their understanding of the events of Boxing Day.

From Andy M

Monday, 25 January 2016

Mark. I'm not clear what sort of response you were expecting?

The Co-Op has been extensively damaged and needs a lot of refurbishment but in the meantime they have provided pop-up shops. The letter told you their target re-opening date and offered to order items in for you.

Seems pretty reasonable to me!

From Judi Chrysanthou

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Just read this post and i was with Barry in Pickering recently and we met up with Nick and Mike and BBC they are doing a short piece on their defences on the 'One show' 2nd feb 7pm which is interesting to observe

Nick and Mike are 2 amazingly committed guys who I have been in contact with on several occasions. They are happy to come down to talk to us just so long as we cover their expenses. They warn of bringing in consultants at high cost ..a quarter of their budget of 4million was spent on this. We should be sharing ideas with guys like this who have been working on flood defences for a long while.

They don't have all the answers but they have quite a few which would be suitable for our area even though the landscape is quite different from theirs. The principle remains the same, to slow the flow of water from the hills and have management which provides outlets /dams etc to contain excess. I have their contact numbers if you want to take it further .

They are extremely enthusiastic in helping us in any way. Nick has produced a new intervention which is with DEFRA and awaiting approval and yet to made public. Nick shared with me that it might well be ideal for our area. Lets hope there is action and funding for this area soon!

Judi Chrysanthou
Chair of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd Flood group


From Paul S

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

To address Robin Grey's point re: Pickering, I don't think the suggestion has ever been that we "copy" what was done in a different topography.

I think that the point is that they have pulled together a group of experts (including Nick Odini from Durham University) who helped them devise a flood plan. And that this flood plan was implemented in a hands on fashion by members of the community.

They have offered to share their expertise and more critically their practical knowledge (having done this before) with us and to help Hebden Bridge draw up a flood plan. They have also had extensive experience of working with the Environment agency, council and local community to implement a plan to a short time frame.

Shouldn't we at least get them to the next community meeting to hear about their experiences? The residents of the Calder Valley and key stakeholders can then form a view as to whether there is any merit in their suggestions.

I have e-mailed Anthony Rae to suggest that we do this.

From Anthony Rae

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

There have been quite a number of postings about aspects of upland and natural flood management, of which 'Pickering' is seen as an exemplar, and as Paul S says he's sent me a message about a possible community meeting. So let me set out where we're up to:

My and the FOE immediate priorities are firstly to promote the 'Mr Cameron: where are our flood schemes?!' petition, which focuses on whether any resultant scheme, whatever its form and components, will be fully funded or not - because we believe that that is the key issue; and secondly to get online the 'questions and comments' online tool that we promised at the public meeting, to allow everybody to submit their views. Only a small proportion of people attending on Thursday got to do that. This is in the belief that at the moment questions/comments are actually more important than answers, but in not immediately proceeding to a debate about potential solutions - but instead allowing the questions to catch up - there is a risk that one frustration will be replaced by another.

Then there is the issue of who exactly should decide what is the best approach to flood alleviation and protection in the Calder Valley, and on the basis of what evidence? People at the public meeting may have been slightly bemused by my talk about 'moving from uncertainty to certainty' and the need for an 'expert process', but that was trying to point to the essential complexity of our flooding 'causes and solutions' problem, now made even more so since - but only very recently - it now seems to be accepted by government that it has to be tackled at the level of the whole catchment.

There will be many competing alternative approaches that people may wish to advocate - and of course the increased interest in all and any of these is welcome - but in the end some agency will have to decide what is to be the mixture of components in a proposed scheme that can be determined (by modelling) to be most likely to be effective, can be implemented in our particular location, and which therefore are capable of justifying funding? At the moment I don't see there is any other choice but to let the Environment Agency and Calderdale Council take the lead in that process, so therefore the role of the community would be to both support them but also to make sure that there is a clear and speedy timetable for its undertaking.

That is why the petition set a deadline for the PM's response just six months away, but let's please also understand an immediate difficulty: both the EA and the Council won't be able to make urgent progress unless they they are provided immediately with substantial additional resources to allow them to undertake the initial catchment level assessment and analysis, and then engage with the community about this. The £15m funding shortfall now in the public domain relates only to the existing approach to the Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd schemes, probably mostly concentrating on the river channel. A catchment level approach will undoubtedly cost more, first to analyse, design and test, and then to implement.

This is something that has been pointed out to the Calder Valley MP, who seems however to be happy at the moment to promote the view that the EA have been tardy because they 'already have [sufficient funding for research]. They have done all modelling and we await the design. Then we lobby funding for a full catchment plan.' It's very good he's saying he will lobby for a catchment level scheme, but wrong I believe to imply that all the research resources and outputs already in place. But we've asked him to check, to make sure none of us are being misled.

So this is why, for the moment, we won't be proceeding immediately to explore individual 'solutions' in depth. But if people want to find out more about where the science and practice of upland hydrology and management are up to, the presentations from the Upland Hydrology conference in Leeds last Tuesday are now available here. Those by Paul Quinn and John Malley are maybe a good place to start.

From Bernard B

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

On the subject of the Pickering flood defences, does this cautionary article need to be borne in mind?

From Anthony Rae

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

This continues to be a very fast moving issue because no sooner have I sent off the previous post than I'm having to write 'BBC Look North interview 26th January: Calder Valley MP misrepresents status and extent of Environment Agency flood schemes'. In the interview Craig Whittaker is claiming that there already is a full catchment plan for the Calder Valley – he says one 'has been announced' - which the Environment Agency has just been too slow in producing. That is not true: there is no such catchment wide plan, and to produce one - which only very recently has become the objective even of government - will require considerable additional resources, which as yet are not available.

So, very conveniently, the EA becomes - as in 2012 - the whipping boy for politicians to divert blame towards. Fortunately (again on Look North) government flood envoy Robert Goodwill MP also said this, in answer to a question 'is there a cast-iron guarantee that the money that Calderdale needs will be made available by the government?':

"What I can say is that whenever we've asked for money to fix problems in Yorkshire …that money's been forthcoming from the Treasury. … It's been the worst flooding that the Calder Valley has ever seen … and this is something that local authorities can't cope with on their own, that's why central government must step up to the mark to make sure that resource is there."

Maybe Craig Whittaker could have a chat with Robert Goodweill to make sure that the Environment Agency receives all the resources it needs to prepare an urgently needed 'full catchment plan for the Calder Valley'. Transcripts of these statements on the Calderdale FOE Facebook page.

From Paul S

Thursday, 28 January 2016

To pick up on a couple of the points that Anthony raises (and to politely disagree), I would point out that the Environment Agency have still not produced a report into the 2012 floods some three years after those floods occurred.

How do we then go to central government for further funding to build game changing catchment wide defences?

Are we saying (in effect) that its central government's fault for not giving us funding but we haven't actually asked for funding because we haven't completed a flood plan?

Or (even worse) we want some money but we don't know how much because we don't have a clue what defences need to be built because no report into 2012 has been produced (let alone 2015).

Unless I am mis-reading Anthony's note, I think the suggestion is also that the Environment Agency don't have resource to produce a flood report. In my view, this just isn't credible as the Agency has a team of people looking at flooding issues in Yorkshire (two of them were at the meeting). Surely, its a question of how resource is prioritised?

I don't profess to be an expert in flooding but the individuals that attended the meeting seemed to be utterly bereft of ideas to resolve the issue. The ideas that seemed most convincing and credible to me came from the Engineers, Chartered surveyors, landscape architects and other professionals in the audience. It would have been helpful to hear more from them I think.

I am going to lodge a freedom of information request with the Environment Agency to find out what funding requests have actually been lodged with central government - as I think boxing day 2015 was avoidable and those involved in the 2012 response should be held accountable.

If the EA have been begging for resource for 3 years then I apologise unreservedly for my comments above and will personally apologise to the individuals within the EA. All of that said, 3 years to produce a report beggars belief.

On a related note, it is a bit tiring that various local characters keep referring to the issues as "complex" as if it is all too hard for us poor residents of Hebden Bridge to grasp. As was amply demonstrated at the meeting, there is lots of knowledge within the community in relation to these issues.

The "its very complex" is sounding increasingly like a smokescreen for "we have got this badly wrong. whoops"

From Cllr Janet Battye

Friday, 29 January 2016

When Liz Truss, Minister for the Environment, visited Hebden Bridge yesterday she said that a flood resilience plan for the Calder Valley would be produced by October this year. I pressed her to make sure that funding is available to be able to put that plan into action.

From Simon Goff

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Good to hear EA talking about using the reservoirs above Hebden to manage flows in the rivers during high rainfall events (see my post 31.12.15).

Let's hope Yorkshire Water act on this as it is a measure that can be implemented immediately. If they don't the Floods Minister should introduce legislation to require them to act.

Yorkshire Water should remember that these reservoirs were paid for and built by local people, (before being given away by the Tories) and should serve our needs

(Hebden Bridge reservoirs to be considered for floodwater storage. See BBC report 11 Feb)

From Anthony Rae

Friday, 12 February 2016

At the public meeting we (Calder Future and Calderdale Friends of the Earth) organised in the Birchcliffe Centre on the 21st January, we knew that only a few people would be able to ask questions there and then, although more than 40 did submit theirs in writing, so we also promised to provide an online opportunity to ask questions and make comments about flooding causes and solutions.

This is now available at caldervalleyfloods.org.uk and we hope that as many people as possible will contribute their insight into this pressing issue, so as to better inform firstly the thinking of the Calderdale Floods Commission, which will be able to access all your contributions, and then to help shape the Calder catchment flood plan that the Secretary of State for the Environmen,t Liz Truss has instructed should be prepared by October. All the written questions/comments from that meeting have already been posted on the new site. You will also be able to have a discussion about particular issues, by posting comments on something already submitted.

So, although we sometimes try and forget distressing experiences, please think back to what you saw and experienced in the Boxing Day floods and now ask a question or make a comment about what you believe to have been their cause, and what could contribute as a future solution. Maybe looking back through this thread will jog your memory. And if you want to inform your contribution before you make it, you have the opportunity to talk to representatives of various organisations including Calderdale Council and the Environment agency at tomorrow's (Saturday 13th) drop-in event at Hebden Bridge town hall 10-1pm.

From Paul S

Monday, 15 February 2016

Government consultation - please all respond DEFRA have initiated a consultation on Future Flood Prevention - responses can be made by concerned members of the public. Closing date 15 March.

I can't help but think they are trying to slide this "under the radar" given the lack of fanfare so I would strongly encourage everyone with a vested interest to respond.

From Alan Cook

Monday, 15 February 2016

Hi folks, lots of interesting views, I agree with those that say a series of attenuation measures is the best approach.

1. Start with delaying the water on the moors & uplands. I expect your local river trust & E-A will be installing 'leaky weirs', stone dams, planting contour hedgerows & trees & digging ditches etc. from now on & will be looking for volunteers to help with this.

2. Try to find out what happens with the existing reservoirs. For flood attenuation these could be partly used as attenuation reservoirs i.e. partial drain-down when storms are expected. I expect you are all Yorkshire Water customers. Ask them what they do. Its possible that they try to keep the flood water out of their reservoirs because they don't want the bother of the debris, silt, etc. New attenuation reservoirs are being talked about in the Thames Valley also, incl the PM's constituency area but so far Thames Water are not keen. The subject also crops up for Cockermouth, the 'Lakes' acting as huge reservoirs of course. Historically, YW learnt, from the drought year of 1995 that water supplies from East Yorkshire were more reliable, even if it meant bringing water from the Tyne, supported by Kielder Res in Northumberland during periods of extreme drought.

(from YW's 2010 summary: 45. Urban areas in the west and south are principally supplied from reservoirs in the Pennines. The Pennines and the valleys of the rivers Don, Aire, Wharfe, Calder, Nidd and Colne are the largest upland sources of water in the region. We operate over 100 impounding reservoirs, of which two are major pumped storage reservoirs. The total storage capacity of all the supply reservoirs is 160,410 mega litres (Ml)).

Recent question to YW: I notice on your writeup of the 1995 Water Shortage event that "the company has now built a pipeline from the east [Goole} to the west [Pennine Reservoirs] to allow balancing of water levels to take place should the need arise".

Can I ask if this pipeline was in use (West to East, gravity feed) during the extreme flooding events a few weeks ago, please ? .. I realise that this idea might appear a bit simplistic, there may well be operational reasons why this might be difficult (raw water from res rather than 'clean water'), but it would be nice to know that it was either in use [to help reduce the 'flash floods'], or considered for such purpose , at least. Can I ask the internal bore of the pipeline, please ? . (Would YW customers like to repeat this question to YW please?)

3. Removal of rocks from the streams & rivers. You really need to consult on this. Rocks add 'roughness' to the channel & help to 'slow the flow', helping to attenuate downstream flooding levels. A holistic approach is needed. Attenuation is far better addressed in the upper catchment, see above.

4. Additional idea (well done if you've read this far down) Proactive 'drain-down' of stored volumes. There is potential for any stored volume to be partially drained down prior to a storm arriving so that there is some relief volume available to fill, thus helping to attenuate the 'flash flooding'. This approach could be applied at all levels, both at 'leaky dams' level, (attenuation) reservoir levels & canal / watercourse storage volumes etc

From Phil Davis

Friday, 26 February 2016

Researching your website at least 1 contributor is aware of the work done by Dr Mark Avery with regard to the draining of so called "Grouse Moors" however his message does not appear to have been driven home either to government or the victims of the consequences of such practices. In his blog Avery writes

"According to the Environment Agency the years in which Hebden Bridge has been flooded seriously are: 1946, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2012 again and 2015. Richard Bannister acquired Walshaw Moor and started the increased drainage, building of tracks and car parks etc which got him into a dispute with Natural England in 2002. So in the 13 years since Walshaw Moor changed hands there have been five Hebden Bridge floods and in the 56 years before there were two such events as best we can tell. That's quite a change. Makes you think doesn't it?"

The full article is here

It's worth a read as are the 51 predessor articles!


From Andy M

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Just to be clear: Natural England wasn't formed until 2006 and the legal disputes with the Walshaw Estate were from 2010 - 2012.

However, Bannister did buy the moor in 2002

From Eleanor Land

Thursday, 17 March 2016

I noticed travelling over the tops from Oxenhope to Hebden this week, huge area of land burning in the distance. No doubt burning away heather for grouse shooting. Looks like very few lessons about flooding in this valley have been learnt.

See also

HebWeb Feature: Boxing Day Floods 2015

HebWeb News - Floods Aftermath

HebWeb News - Boxing Day 2015 Floods

Facebook Group: Calder Valley Flood Support

HebWeb News: The June 2012 Floods

HebWeb News: The July 2012 Floods