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A multimillion-pound 'Growing Resilience' project to reduce flood risk

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Hundreds of hectares of landscape restored, and thousands of trees planted as part of an ambitious environmental project to reduce flood risk.

A multimillion-pound project to reduce flood risk in West Yorkshire has seen more than 350 hectares of upland landscape restored and more than 100,000 trees planted. The Growing Resilience project, which was funded by the West Yorkshire Combined authority, focused on land in the Colne and Calder valleys, including at Hardcastle Crags, Marsden Moor and Gorpley Reservoir.

Photo: Victoria Holland

Over two years, the project focused on working with nature to reduce flood risk to communities living downstream in the Leeds City Region. The work carried out included the creation of more than 800 leaky dams, which slow the flow of water into rivers including the Calder and the Colne. These are made from natural materials such as willow, stone and tree trunks. These leaky dams also help re-wet the surround environment, helping more diverse plant life to flourish and thereby supporting rare wildlife.

The project also involved ambitious partnership working. At Hardcastle Crags, the National Trust team installed large leaky dams on Hebden Water, building on previous work by volunteers from Slow The Flow. The National Trust's car park at Clough Hole was also upgraded to help reduce flood risk, using sustainable drainage and hedges to help slow the flow of water.

At Gorpley Reservoir, a Yorkshire Water site, 112,000 mixed native trees were planted. These trees were provided by the Woodland Trust and planted in part by the community group Treesponsibility. They will form part of the White Rose Forest. Leaky dams, ponds and bank stabilisation was also an important part of the work at Gorpley. These all contribute to reducing flood risk, as well as improving water quality.

National Trust project manager, Rosie Holdsworth said, "I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done with our partners during this project. We've made a real difference to these special landscapes and can already see the benefits this work is having for nature. We are continuing to work with our partner organisations to monitor the impact on river levels."

"Landowners like Yorkshire Water have played a crucial part in making this happen. Our partnership with them will continue and we'll be looking to expand this work across West Yorkshire over the coming years."

"It's also been so inspiring to see how much of the work was carried out by dedicated volunteers, like Treepsonsibility and the National Trust volunteers. We can't thank them enough."

To find out more about Natural Flood Management in West Yorkshire, see this web page.