Millions of pounds in protective measures against extreme weather events have been allocated to safeguard homes, businesses, and communities vulnerable to flooding in West Yorkshire. The funding announcement was made today (December 18) by Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, and Jane Scullion, Leader of Calderdale Council, following Mayor Brabin’s visit to Brighouse, a town severely affected by the 2015 Boxing Day floods.

The devastation in Brighouse, caused by the overflow of the River Calder, was part of a larger crisis that impacted nearby towns, including Mirfield, Mytholmroyd, and Hebden Bridge, as well as substantial areas of Leeds and the broader region. Approximately 6,000 homes and businesses suffered damage during the floods, resulting in an estimated cost of half a billion pounds for West Yorkshire.

Calderdale has experienced additional serious flooding incidents, notably during Storm Ciara in February 2020, along with several “near miss” events since then. In response, Mayor Brabin and Cllr Scullion have allocated over £20 million for the installation of flood defences, measures to slow water flow, and support for businesses at risk.

This funding initiative stems from Mayor Brabin’s letter to government ministers, advocating for fairer funding for areas at a higher risk of flooding due to geographical factors beyond their control. Mayor Brabin emphasised the increasing frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change and called for additional government support to mitigate the looming threat of flooding.

The £22 million investment aligns with the West Yorkshire Plan, launched in June, which outlines regional missions focused on areas such as jobs, housing, transport, climate, and crime. One of these missions, ‘a sustainable West Yorkshire,’ aims to create warmer homes, and greener businesses, protect communities from climate change, and achieve 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, supporting a variety of built and natural methods to prevent flooding and protect homes and businesses.”

The £22 million funding will be allocated to three priorities: a £7 million natural flood scheme, a £5 million scheme for businesses’ sustainability plans, and a £10 million infrastructure scheme to build physical protections. These initiatives aim to enhance flood resilience, support wildlife, and safeguard businesses, homes, and critical infrastructure.

Stewart Mounsey, Yorkshire Area Director at the Environment Agency; “We know the devastating impact that flooding can have, which is why we are determined to reduce the risk of flooding for communities across Yorkshire.

“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.

“We welcome this partnership working with local authorities and others to come together with a clear focus on protecting lives and livelihoods against the impact of climate change and delivering for the communities in West Yorkshire.”

Joanne Hudson, General Manager for National Trust West Yorkshire, said; “We are grateful for the support of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Together in partnership with Yorkshire Water, we will use funds to deliver natural flood defence projects as part of our new Landscapes for Water programme.

“As well as providing landscape resilience, we hope to get local communities involved in these projects, so we can show the next generation that nature can play a key role in preventing flooding and protecting our homes.”