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Catchment Management

Natural Flood Management plans revealed to reduce flood risk in the Calder Valley

We announced our long term Natural Flood Management plan for the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire today.

The announcement took place on the moors high above Gorpley reservoir, located between Todmorden and Bacup, where various natural flood management initiatives will be implemented over the next 10 years. 

Craig Whittaker, Member of Parliament for the Calder Valley, has campaigned to improve flood resilience and was invited to see Yorkshire Water’s plans to help protect the towns further down the valley in his constituency first hand. 

Tree planting forms the first part of the plan and together with the White Rose Forest partnership we have pledged to investigate tree planting opportunities to reduce flood risk across the estate. 

The White Rose Forest is made up of a number of organisations who, by working together, aim to plant and manage more woodland to make sure the region is a greener and a healthier place for people, business and wildlife.

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

Other natural flood management measures will also be implemented on these moors over the next 5 – 10 years. For instance, an additional 43 hectares of blanket bog will be improved by restoring peatland with sphagnum moss, which absorbs and slows down rain water runoff to act as a natural flood barrier.

Other environmental enhancements will include; 
•    Leaky dams on some of the smaller watercourses. Barriers are added to create these leaky dams which prevent soil and silt escaping and allow water to escape at a slower rate and moderate the flow of water downstream. 

•    Fascines, bundles of wood, will be used to strengthen river banks to reduce the risk of soil erosion.
 
•    The creation of a patchwork of wetland areas.

Gorpley reservoir is already used by the Environment Agency for flood attenuation. We are able to let the Environment Agency use Gorpley for this purpose as this reservoir is not used for water supply. The Environment Agency alters the releases of water to try and maintain the reservoir at 73% full or below. 

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

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

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

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