‘Little or nothing has been done to prevent flooding’ - report

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When Calderdale faced floods back in 2012, the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce called on David Cameron to do more to ensure the devastation was not repeated.

But in the wake of the Boxing Day floods, which engulfed Calderdale and left homes and businesses destroyed, it says that nothing has changed.

Mytholmroyd Flood. A wall at the Shoulder of Mutton collapsed into the River Elphin.

Mytholmroyd Flood. A wall at the Shoulder of Mutton collapsed into the River Elphin.

In its letter to the Prime Minister four years ago, the organisation called for management of moorland, with emphasis on land drainage and called for “full rehabilitation” of all drainage pipes, gullies and culverts throughout the region.

It also raised concerns about the availability of future insurance cover and suggested that until infrastructure work was carried out to minimise the flood risk, the Government should indemnify insurance companies for possible future losses.

It slammed the reply from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), calling it “unsatisfactory and unacceptable”.

In its reply, DEFRA, said: “This work that the Environment Agency is currently doing will not improve the standard of protection from flooding for Hebden Bridge” and “Any new scheme for Hebden Bridge would require significant third party funding to proceed”.

DEFRA also said the Government was looking at a new approach to flood insurance which would address its availability and secures its affordability.

Steven Leigh, head of policy at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Despite our efforts, including our letter in 2012 to the Prime Minister and his reply from DEFRA, the fact is that little or nothing has been done about our suggested flood prevention measures in the Calder Valley – despite the fact that we pointed them out to the Prime Minister and received assurances from DEFRA that our various suggestions were already under consideration, and that work was underway to address our concerns.

“These concerns were in 2012 and still are our concerns in 2016- there should be proper upland moorland management of drainage above Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, and other high-ground in the region. This should encompass the provision of drains and culverts, upland water catchment areas, and the intelligent planning of drainage and optimal water run-off.

“The full rehabilitation and repair of all drainage pipes gullies and culverts throughout the region

“Despite any direction to the contrary, from the EU or anywhere else, the clearance and dredging of the River Calder in afflicted areas

“Government delivery of a new approach to flood-insurance and its affordability

“Once again, the response to flooding in our region, from all agencies and volunteers, has been uplifting and inspirational.

“The human kindness, hard work and tireless efforts of so many people to help others in their time of need has been truly heartening.

“However, clearing-up and helping following devastating floods doesn’t prevent the floods from happening again. When everything has dried-out, the problem will not have gone away”.

Mr Leigh added: “Now is the time for serious Government commitment and action.

“Conventional ideas about the incidence of ‘once every hundred years’ weather occurrences are clearly no longer apposite.

“Whatever the cause of this weather, we MUST ensure that we mitigate the effects as a matter of great urgency.”