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Yorkshire Water to plant 200,000 trees in flood protection effort

Yorkshire Water has launched an ambitious and innovative pilot to reduce flooding in Calderdale which involves the planting of around 200,000 trees.

The trees, the first of which was planted on Friday, are one of a series of measures planned to help slow the flow of flood water in the Calder Valley. As well as the trees, a wide range of initiatives such as leaky dams and blanket bog restoration will be introduced to the landscape to help reduce flood risk and an enhance the environment.

Alongside this landscape project, Yorkshire Water intends to trial a change in how some of the reservoirs above Hebden Bridge are managed this winter. Yorkshire Water has been working with the Environment Agency and Defra since the Boxing Day 2015 floods to understand the wider implications that changes in reservoir operation could have on water supply in Yorkshire.

Whilst this longer-term work is continuing, Yorkshire Water is now in a position to trial a different approach to reservoir management. The trial will involve a reduction in the levels in some of the reservoirs above Hebden Bridge to allow for flood storage. The project will help to clarify whether this approach is feasible and whether a longer-term change to reservoir operation is possible. The utility will shortly be opening a consultation for residents and other interested stakeholders to comment on the proposals. 

The initial focus for the landscaping efforts will be on Gorpley reservoir, above Todmorden, where the environment will be transformed with a new Natural Flood Management plan. 7,500 trees and 3,500 hedge plants are being planted this November with the help of a local organisation, Treesponsibility. This is a part of a wider plan for Gorpley that has been developed in partnership with the White Rose Forest.

Over the next 5 – 10 years, the landscape around Gorpley reservoir will be dramatically improved with 43 hectares of blanket bog restoration and 60 hectares of environmental improvements such as leaky dams, fascines and wetlands to slow the flow of water.

Local residents in the Calder Valley are being encouraged to come along and help with the innovative new pilot at Gorpley that could help to transform the way flood water is managed across Yorkshire. There are planned tree planting days this November and there will be even more scheduled for next year.

Granville Davies, Yorkshire Water’s Asset Strategy Manager said: “Last weekend we saw once again how quickly the valley reacts to heavy rainfall and this work at Gorpley, alongside the change in approach to managing some of our reservoirs, will ultimately help to slow the flow of water down the valley. 

“Flooding has devastated parts of Calderdale and the threat of another flood event is still ever present. It’s been a wet summer for us in Yorkshire and we’ve taken the decision to act now to provide some upland storage for any further storm events this winter. These measures are part of a wider range of actions being taken to reduce flood risk in the Calder Valley.”

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