Urgent need for improved flood defences in Dewsbury and Mirfield, says MP

Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood has pressed the 'urgent need for improved defences' following a summit with the Floods Minister last week.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 11:30 am
Flooding on Newgate in Mirfield, February 2020

Floods Minister Rebecca Pow visited West Yorkshire to bring together a roundtable of MPs, local authorities, flood experts and water companies to examine the issue of flooding along the River Aire and River Calder.

Held at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, the roundtable was an opportunity for the minister to hear from local representatives, including MPs and council leaders in communities that have suffered the devastating impact of flooding, and to look at how the Government, Environment Agency and communities can work together to improve the resilience of the area in the future.

The Aire and Calder river catchment has been one of the worst affected by frequent flooding in recent years, with major flooding hitting the areas in 2012, 2015 and 2020.

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Roundtable event in Hebden Bridge with Floods Minister Rebecca Pow

Speaking after the event, Mr Eastwood said: “I would like to thank Rebecca Pow MP for organising such an important meeting to discuss tackling flood risks in the Kirklees and Calderdale catchment areas.

“Following the severe flooding events in 2015 and 2020, which caused devastation in Mirfield and some parts of Dewsbury, the event provided me with the opportunity to highlight the urgent need for improved flood defences in these areas.

“Since being elected in 2019, I have been working closely with the Environment Agency and Mirfield councillor, Martyn Bolt, to ensure that we receive our fair share of funding to help alleviate the risk of severe flooding incidents happening again in the future.”

Between 2015 and 2021, the Government invested £530million in flood and coastal schemes across Yorkshire and the Humber.

The region has received more investment than any other part of the country, including £113.2million in the Aire and Calder catchments.

It was recently announced that the region will benefit from more than £146million of investment in more than 150 schemes in 2021/22 – an extra £40million compared to last year - as part of the Government’s plans to invest a record £5.2billion in new flood and coastal defences across England over the next six years.

Speaking following the meeting in Hebden Bridge, Ms Pow said: “I would like to thank all those who attended for their positive and productive contributions as we work together to better protect communities along the River Aire and River Calder from the devastating flooding they have suffered in the past.

“We are making progress - a new flood alleviation scheme at Mytholmroyd will better protect 400 homes and businesses, while we’re harnessing the power of nature in the upper catchments to slow the flow of water and reduce risk downstream.

“However, I know that there is more to do and we’re continuing to invest in places like Leeds and Hebden Bridge. We will boost the resilience of communities across Yorkshire as we face more extreme weather brought about by climate change.”

Oliver Harmar, Yorkshire area director for the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency is working with partners to reduce the risk of flooding across Yorkshire, and more than 66,000 properties have been better protected since 2015, including along the River Aire and River Calder which has suffered terribly in recent years.

“As well as building more traditional flood defences downstream, such as walls and embankments, it has meant working with landowners, such as those at Broughton Hall on the upper Aire and Hardcastle Crags upstream from Hebden Bridge to plant trees and create leaky dams to slow the run-off of heavy rain from the hills.

“Across the region, 150 flood schemes are underway and we are committed to working with communities, councils, MPs and Government to make communities along the Aire and Calder far more resilient for the future.”