A £2.6 million option that is affordable will form a key part of the £30 million Mytholmroyd flood alleviation scheme because it can be completed sooner – rather than a £10.3 million scheme which would bring greater protection.
Members of the Calderdale Flood Recovery and Resilience Board, which met at the Shay Stadium, Halifax, today (Friday, June 15) agreed to back Environmental Agency officers, supporting an option which will bring forward construction of permanent walls on the River Calder at the Greenhill Industrial Estate, Mytholmroyd.
The £2.6 million funding for this was agreed a year ago and will deliver an improved standard of protection, reducing the flooding risk to two per cent (one in 50 years), without taking into account climate change, as opposed to 20 per cent now.
Local company Vale Bridgecraft will stay in place at Greenhill with this option and the EA’s project team have been working closely with Vale to agree a methodology for constructing the walls which will minimise disruption to the furniture-making business, said the joint report by Environment Agency area flood and coastal risk manager Adrian Gill and Mark Thompson, Calderdale Council’s director for Economy and Environment.
Mr Gill told the meeting that the first option of four which had been considered, which would have seen the channel of the River Calder widened and would involve the relocation of Vale Bridgecraft as a result would have been first choice because it offered the highest standard of protection (1.3 per cent or a one in 75 years risk of flooding).
But at £10.3 million it was significantly more expensive and it as not affordable within the current allocation of funding and the whole programme would be delayed with the risk of increased costs while extra cash was sourced.
The two others schemes also considered carried greater risks to costs and programme, he said.
Councillor Geraldine Carter (Con, Ryburn) asked what the outcome would be if rain levels like those seen in the West Midlands in the past two weeks fell here – could that amount of water be managed?
Mr Gill said if the same rainfall as on the Calder Valley on Boxing Day 2015 fell none of the schemes would stop that level.
Councillor Carter said: “I think it is important – even if we spent this money it wouldn’t stop what we had before.”
Later in the debate, after Councillor George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) had raised the issue of the increased risk posed by climate change, Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) said moving forward was important, selecting the best scheme for which funds were in place.
Money, as in other areas was an issue and it was not there for option one.
But people wanted to see progress and the option which could be progressed offered ten times more protection to homes in Mytholmroyd than they currently had.
“We don’t want to wait two years to see if we might or might not be able to do it,” she said. “We can make them as safe as we possibly can, looking at the evidence.”
Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) agreed. It had been a difficult conversation over a long period of time.
“You’ve got to make a decision. We have got to find a way forward.
“In my view the honest approach is admit the position might be changed but we are doing the best we can now,” he said.
Widening the channel at Greenhill is not completely ruled out – and where appropriate opportunities to do so arise, would be pursued alongside other measures including reservoir management and natural flood management.
After the meeting, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town), Leader of Calderdale Council and Chair of the Calderdale Flood Recovery and Resilience Partnership Board said: “We are committed to protecting communities like Mytholmroyd to help them thrive so that people want to live, work, visit and invest there.
“Given Mytholmroyd’s vulnerability to flooding and the damage caused by recent incidents, it was important to find a solution that would enable the works to continue in a timely way and provide a high standard of protection until further potential works can be progressed.
“The approved option will ensure the best possible use of our resources, enabling us to continue to approach funding bodies without delaying this essential scheme and putting residents and businesses at unnecessary risk.”