The development of a wetland nature reserve at Brearley Fields in Mytholmroyd has reached its conclusion, effectively converting the former sports grounds into a valuable wetland habitat while also providing a natural means of managing the local flood risk.

This initiative, partially funded by the European Regional Development Fund, has been meticulously crafted to enhance floodwater storage within the floodplain of the River Calder and simultaneously facilitate the emergence of fresh wildlife sanctuaries.

The novel wetland area encompasses two substantial permanent ponds and a transient pond, which is linked to the river through depressions. This arrangement allows the pond to fill and recede in response to the natural ebb and flow of river levels. Calculations suggest that these newfound attributes can accommodate an additional 3000m³ of floodwater, roughly equivalent to seven swimming pools measuring 25 metres each.

These flood retention characteristics have already demonstrated their effectiveness. During a recent storm that precipitated nearly a month’s worth of rainfall within a 24-hour span in the Upper Calder Valley, river levels surged swiftly. The transient pond was promptly filled with floodwater, which then subsided the subsequent day as the river levels abated.

Unlike previous flood occurrences at Brearley Fields, the adjacent football pitches remained unaffected during this meteorological incident, underscoring the safeguarding capacity provided by the wetland.

The wetland area also bestows numerous advantages upon the local wildlife. The two sizeable ponds have evolved into a haven for wetland birds and invertebrates, evident by the sightings of sand martins and kingfishers. To enable public appreciation of the new nature reserve, pathways traverse the site, and arrangements are in place for seating areas.

Regular volunteer gatherings are scheduled, and blueprints are in motion to introduce reedbeds around the pond vicinity, a measure designed to purify floodwater before it reintegrates with the river. An open-day event recently drew in 70 visitors to explore the novel wetland, partake in planting and ecological restoration activities, and engage in guided tours of the precinct. For further details about upcoming volunteer engagement days, please get in touch with

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Active Travel and Housing, Cllr Scott Patient, said; “The new wetland nature reserve at Brearley Fields is part of a wider programme of work across the borough to naturally manage flood risk. These Natural Flood Management (NFM) interventions can collectively result in a significant amount of water being temporarily stored during storm events, reducing the scale and damaging effects of floods.

“Although we can never completely remove the risk faced by flooding in Calderdale, NFM works, like these, help to reduce the risk and complement other flood measures, such as the Environment Agency’s Flood Alleviation Schemes.

“We’ve already seen the wetland’s flood storage capabilities in action, working well to hold water as recent heavy rain caused rising river levels. The site should also benefit the nearby playing fields, protecting them from flood water, resulting in fewer games being postponed.”