Developing a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy for the Calder Valley

Calderdale was one of the worst hit areas of the country following the Boxing Day 2015 floods caused by Storm Eva. The event caused widespread flooding with 4,500 properties (3,000 homes and 1,500 businesses) affected across the council area.

Before Storm Eva, the Calder valley had suffered flooding over many years. Because of the nature of the catchment, with its rapidly responding steep valley sides and towns crammed into the valley bottom, flood risk cannot be eliminated. However, three years after the Boxing Day 2015 flood, the management of flood risk in the area has a clearer focus and the local council have more resources to tackle the problems.


In response to the Boxing Day 2015 floods, Mark Bentley, Technical Director and Flood Risk Assessment expert, was seconded into Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (CMBC) as Acting Flood Risk Manager to help develop their Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (LFRMS).

The Calder Valley has a strong community ethos and public meetings were held in each town along the Calder valley to gain the views of local residents and businesses. The local flood action groups which provide significant support during floods were also involved. The work gave a great insight into the responsibility local authorities have discharging care to their communities.

Developing the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (LFRMS)

JBA Sowerby Bridge Storm Eva
Sowerby Bridge Storm Eva

Following extensive consultation, a draft LFRMS was developed within three months. Various departments in CMBC (drainage, planning, highways and emergency planning), along with other Risk Management Authorities (RMAs) such as the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water, and other stakeholders (Network Rail, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Northern Power Grid) were involved in this process.

The strategy was based on four broad objectives:

  1. Building a better understanding of local flood risk issues: data management
  2. Actively reducing flood risk: improved planning and catchment management
  3. Managing residual flood risk: flood alleviation schemes and resilience measures
  4. Improving preparedness for flood events: better flood warning and communication measures.

The LFRMS presented detailed strategy measures associated with each objective, the progress to date against those measures, and the prioritised actions required to deliver the strategy. Example priority actions were:

  • Building a comprehensive flood risk asset data register so key flood infrastructure is identified, maintained and, if necessary, recommended for improvements
  • Implementing robust planning procedures so new development does not add to flood risk
  • Accelerating a programme of feasibility and appraisal studies for potential flood alleviation schemes to advance works through to construction
  • Improving upland catchment management because a quarter of the Calder catchment drains through reservoirs which could be used to reduce runoff during events.

Although the actions form the core of the LFRMS, it would not have been successful without further elements:

  • Assigning responsibility for each action to a named stakeholder
  • Setting out the staff resources required by CMBC to deliver the strategy
  • Outlining the funding required to support the strategy
  • Gaining the political support of CMBC’s councillors.

Mark’s secondment lasted for six months and concluded following the appointment of a permanent Flood Risk Manager at CMBC. The new post holder is now overseeing the implementation of the LFRMS but doing so with a larger team of engineers than was available three years’ ago.

Want to know more?

Email Mark Bentley for more information on the Calder Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy. You can also find out more on our flood risk management web pages.

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