£22m unveiled to protect businesses and homes from flooding

Homes, businesses and communities at risk of flooding in West Yorkshire will benefit from millions of pounds worth of protection against extreme weather events.

The cash was confirmed by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and Calderdale Council Leader Jane Scullion, following a visit by the Mayor to Brighouse.

The town was ravaged by the Boxing Day floods of 2015, when the River Calder burst its banks. Other local towns including Mirfield, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge, as well as large parts of Leeds and the wider region, were also badly hit.

Around 6,000 homes and businesses were damaged by the floods, costing West Yorkshire an estimated half-a-billion pounds.

Further serious flooding has occurred in Calderdale, including Storm Ciara in February 2020.

In a bid to make the region resilient to future flooding, Mayor Brabin and Cllr Scullion have earmarked over £20m to put up flood defences, slow the flow of water, and support at-risk businesses.

Mayor Brabin said: “As climate change worsens, and one in 100-year floods become more common, it’s vital we step up our support for businesses and communities and ensure our region is fit for the future.

“We want West Yorkshire to be more resilient to flooding so we can avoid the terrible devastation of the 2015 Boxing Day Floods.

“I am calling on the Government to provide the further funding that we need to reduce the looming threat of flooding, and help us build a greener, brighter West Yorkshire that works for all.”

The multi-million investment follows the launch of the West Yorkshire Plan in June, which sets out five regional missions aimed at boosting progress on jobs, housing, transport, climate and crime.

One of these missions, ‘a sustainable West Yorkshire’, outlined plans to deliver warmer homes and greener businesses, protect communities from the harmful effects of climate change, and build a net zero carbon region by 2038.

Cllr Jane Scullion, leader of Calderdale Council and chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Climate, Energy and Environment Committee, said: “Although we’ve made incredible progress in our flood resilience work since the Boxing Day 2015 floods, people living or working in parts of Calderdale still live with the ongoing threat of serious flooding.

“This concern is shared in areas across West Yorkshire and sadly climate change is making extreme weather events, like flooding, more likely.

“The threat can never be completely removed, but we welcome this significant funding which will make a huge difference to communities across the region.”

The £22m will be split across three priorities:

  • A £7m natural flood scheme to slow the flow of water by working with natural systems that boost wildlife.
  • A £5m scheme to help businesses implement new sustainability plans that guard against rising temperatures and water levels.
  • A £10m infrastructure scheme to build physical protections, as part of a wider programme which aims to better protect over 2,200 businesses, 2,500 homes, and vital infrastructure such as rail and road.

The projects funded by the West Yorkshire Mayor will be delivered by partners including the National Trust and the Environment Agency and coordinated by the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.

Stewart Mounsey, Yorkshire area director at the Environment Agency: said: The Environment Agency, and other risk management authorities, are investing £340m in flood defence schemes in West Yorkshire – with two-thirds of that money coming from Government.

“These projects include the Brighouse Flood Alleviation Scheme where we are delivering essential flood resilience measures to help protect homes while improving the local environment in the upper catchments of the Calder Valley.”