Conference to discuss natural flood management to be held in Hebden Bridge

Volunteers of Slow the Flow at Hardcastle Crags
Volunteers of Slow the Flow at Hardcastle Crags

Hebden Royd Town Council and award-winning flood alleviation charity Slow The Flow Calderdale have joined forces to stage a unique conference designed exclusively for people living with flood risk in their own communities.

This unique conference will showcase Natural Flood Management (NFM) processes, strategies and the innovative ideas that came out of coping with the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015 in the Calder Valley.

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Conference organisers would like to encourage representatives from other flood affected communities and professionals who work in the field of flood risk management to attend.

The conference will discuss NFM methods and how to harness the abundant enthusiasm of volunteer groups and local communities to build resilience and community partnerships.

The conference is planned over the weekend of March 30 and 31 at Hebden Bridge Town Hall and will include speakers from the Environment Agency, the National Flood Forum, Calderdale Council, The Mersey Forest, 2B Landscape Consultancy and Slow The Flow Calderdale, who have all worked in the area of flood resilience and are experts in dealing with community engagement.

During the Saturday sessions, the conference will include specific speakers on Natural Flood Management including volunteer recruitment and training, flood communications, sustainable urban drainage systems, land management, dealing with public bodies and building resilience using innovative community led initiatives.

On Sunday, there will be a showing of the ‘High Water Common Ground’ film at Hebden Bridge Picture House, produced by acclaimed film maker Andy Clark, which highlights the many natural flood management techniques being utilised around the UK.

This will be accompanied by a speaker talking about bringing the iconic community-run Picture House back to life following severe flood damage of 2015.

There is an alternative choice of a working session at Hardcastle Crags looking at volunteer-built leaky dams and how they can reduce the significant quantities of water reaching populated areas.

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The weekend will be extremely valuable for other communities affected by flood risk that wish to learn from one already ravaged by flooding, that has reacted positively to the pressures and challenges which these natural events bring.

Adrian Horton, of Slow the Flow Calderdale, said: “The purpose of this national conference is to celebrate the achievements of our unique community in the Calder Valley and to spread the word about how residents and businesses came together to support each other to reduce the risk of flooding.

"Three years on and a lot has been learned about how to deal with this growing risk, the risks of Climate Change and what communities can do to help themselves, particularly through Natural Flood Management.

"We’d like to share these pioneering ideas that are taking shape in Calderdale to try and help reduce the flood risk in other areas around the UK, by increasing community NFM input.”

"We are grateful to Hebden Royd Town Council for jointly organising the conference and sponsors that have made this conference possible including Marshalls plc, British Recycled Plastics Limited based in Hebden Bridge, the JBA Trust, Blue Green Urban Limited, the Environment Agency and the National Trust."

Coun Dr Carol Stow, Mayor of Hebden Royd Town Council, Co-Host and Main Sponsor said: "Our local area has a national reputation as a strong, quirky community. Following the devastating floods of 2015 this community spirit came together to help each other.

"From this spirit Slow the Flow Calderdale was born - a group of volunteers with relevant professional skills working to design, build and advocate natural flood management features intended to slow the flow of water to reduce flood peak levels.

"Over the last three years Slow The Flow Calderdale, The National Trust, the Environment Agency, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council and others have come together to work on the Flood Action Plan in the Calder Valley to reduce flood risk and to raise the level of community resilience."

Tickets for the Community Led NFM Conference are £25 for the weekend for delegates with a non-profit community interest, or £50 for statutory agencies, and can be booked here at www.slowtheflow.net
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