Pinch Points and Middle Calder catchment interventions


The River Calder flows through key economic centres of Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge, Elland and Brighouse, in Calderdale, West Yorkshire. Heavy modification of water courses due to economic development in these areas has resulted in river straightening, impoundment, bank erosion, and diffuse pollution. Not only has this had an impact on local wildlife, but it also contributed to a devastating flood event on Boxing Day 2015, affecting over 1,000 businesses and 2,500 homes.

The Calderdale Council, Environment Agency, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Calder Rivers Trust, and Yorkshire Invasive Species Forum are working in partnership to improve the Calder river corridor and its tributaries. As part of the initial development of this scheme, proposals were required for soft interventions that could be implemented along the catchment. The extent of hard engineering and urban development presented a significant limiting factor on the design and location of such features.


Commissioned by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, we conducted a series of walkover surveys to identify and propose appropriate and location-specific soft interventions that would result in multiple benefits for water quality, wildlife, and people.

Our proposal makes recommendations for key strategic locations along the Calder and its main tributaries including:

  • Flow deflectors
  • Marginal planting
  • Willow spiling
  • Berm creation
  • Woody debris

Installation of these interventions will help create in-channel features that are more representative of a natural river. This will increase flow diversity and habitat quality, ultimately improving conditions for wildlife such as invertebrates, fish, and riparian mammals, whilst also addressing water quality.

Subject to funding and consultation with stakeholders, it is hoped that these actions will be implemented during a three-year programme.


The implementation of intervention measures proposed under this study will result in multiple benefits for the local economy, people, and wildlife establishing an increasingly attractive natural environment. The benefits are synergistic with the wider objectives of the scheme, which ultimately aim to:

  • Maintain a sustainable local economy and attract new investment through improved business confidence and resilience
  • Reduce flood risk to homes and businesses throughout Calder valley
  • Increase health and well-being through improved air quality and more opportunities to access attractive outdoor spaces
  • Establish sustainable and resilient wildlife habitats with improving biodiversity
  • Create new and enhanced rural and urban green spaces
  • Create new habitats, including new wet woodlands, grasslands and aquatic habitats at multiple riverside sites to improve air and water quality and aid flood attenuation.

Want to know more?

For more information on this project email Carys Hutton. You can also find out more on our environmental services and catchment and river restoration web pages.

Are you attending the River Restoration Conference on 24-25 April? Our exhibition stand will be showcasing the JBA Trust’s augmented reality sandbox which demonstrates flood protection measures and scenarios. We are also giving four presentations and have eight posters for you to see our project examples. Read the abstracts to find out more in our interactive guide below.

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