March Newsletter from Slow The Flow

slow the flow march blog

Welcome to our new monthly blog enabling you to see at a glance what Slow The Flow have been doing & giving you easy access to reports, videos and blogs on our excellent website which support the promotion of Natural Flood Management (NFM) and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

Storm Ciara – March 2020

February started like many other months for Slow The Flow, we had a special general meeting planned to review our constitution, we were pulling together some reports on various projects around the catchment, as well as planning our next volunteer day.

That changed once Storm Ciara hit on the weekend of 8th/9th February 2020, just 4 years since our last ‘1 in 100 year’ flood.  The Calder Valley went into action to help over 1000 homes and businesses who were deluged by significant amounts of rain on an already very wet landscape. There was plenty of media attention focussed on Slow The Flow. Members of our group appeared on both TV and Radio to get the natural flood management message out, and to call for a whole of catchment plan policy by the government to deal with the growing risk of extreme flood events.

Our voice seems to have been heard with both Craig Whitaker MP and Holly Lynch MP, raising questions in Parliament about NFM and calling for a catchment wide plan to reduce flood risk. It appears that the Government are starting to listen but there is a long way to go.  Slow The Flow will continue to press for whole catchment planning and the utilisation of NFM and SuDS. We will continue to lobby our local politicians and councillors until more robust planning is undertaken.

Although storms can be incredibly stressful for many people living near watercourses and rivers, storm also provide us with evidence to demonstrate the many benefits of NFM and SuDS. During storm Ciara, the following video was made by a homeowner demonstrating the effectiveness of interventions upon advice provided by one of our trustees at Slow The Flow.

You can read all about it here

http://slowtheflow.net/flood-prevention-at-oldroyd/

Hardcastle Crags – Working with The National Trust

During February, we also built our 501st leaky dam using the incredible hard work of our teams of volunteers.  In the days that followed Storm Ciara, these dams were working to reduce the flood peak. However, due to the immense volume of the water that fell in the preceding weeks and during February, unfortunately Hebden Bridge did suffer another flood. During storm Ciara, the deluge this time was too severe for the dams to stop the flooding.  We can only imagine how it might have been along Hebden Water if the 500 leaky dams had not been there.

As we have always said, many more interventions are needed, throughout the catchment, if we are to prevent flooding.

We visited Hardcastle Crags and took the following pictures to illustrate how the dams are working.

You can also visit our Twitter and Facebook pages for more footage of the dams working.

When the woods are dry enough to take a laptop in, we hope to harvest more data from Storm Ciara and blog about the results.

As part of the flood alleviation toolkit, NFM and SuDS offer a greener, more cost effective solution than hard engineering. They also help to prevent flooding, rather than pushing the problem downstream. Storm Ciara caused extensive and unprecedented flooding in the Middle Calder, including in Elland and Brighouse. Solutions for the Upper Calder, that deal with pushing water downstream more quickly, risk making their problems worse. It is imperative that we continue to take all opportunities to promote NFM and SuDS, so that our politicians can take this message to Government.

Media

TV Appearances: Slow The Flow were interviewed for BBC Breakfast, Look North, Calendar and Radio 4 during February and hopefully you managed to catch at least 1 of these broadcasts.

Both Holly Lynch MP and Craig Whitaker MP have used information we supplied in their own statements to the media and in Parliament so it is imperative that we continue to take advantage of media channels to promote the work we, and our volunteers do.

Twitter Picture: check out this tweet that Slow The Flow posted that has now gone Viral with nearly 2m hits at time of publication.

Well just leave this there! #nowords  https://t.co/eBWTRN0Q46

LocalGiving: Our new ‘Donate’ button on the website has been an instant hit! Thank you to each and every one of our donors. We are particularly gratified to receive regular ‘Direct Debit’ donations. We are entirely run by volunteers, so every penny donated goes towards the promotion of NFM and SuDS.

Sunday 23rd Feb – Volunteer Day at Hardcastle Crags

We had a brilliant turnout for our last volunteer day in February in Hardcastle Crags with over 30 people helping to build dams and stuff gullies. We have been working with The National Trust for nearly 3 years to promote NFM and build leaky dams throughout the Crags. The day started off wet but turned into blue skies and sunshine and we recorded our highest ever number of dams in a single day (14).

The National Trust was awarded £2.6m last year to continue their work to promote NFM on their land throughout West Yorkshire.  Our work in Hardcastle Crags helped to secure this grant by demonstrating the the benefits of NFM.  They now employ more people across their sites to carry out this work, and all because of the incredible work Slow The Flow Volunteers have done in the last 3 years.

A film crew from the BBC Panorama were with us at Hardcastle Crags in February as well to interview us and the National Trust for a climate change documentary to be shown in September.

The picture below shows what a happy crew we had that day. We also built our 501st leaky dam with the help of all our fabulous volunteers

slow the flow march blog

Slow The Flow visit to Parliament – 12th May

The BBC will also be accompanying us to Parliament in May when we will meet MPs for other flood affected constituencies to discuss the merits of NFM directly with them.

If you live outside of the Calder Valley in a flood affect area, please write to your MP to ask them to attend this informal reception on the 12th May at Portcullis House from 2-4pm.  It will be an opportunity for us to speak to them directly about the work we are doing and the merits of NFM and SuDS. Almost every constituency in the UK will have some sort of flood risk so this is a great opportunity for us to continue to put our work front and centre within Government.

Please help us to invite your MP to attend

Noisy Toys – Code the Flow

Slow The Flow and Noisy Toys have joined together to run an after-school club where young people in Mytholmroyd can learn how to use programable digital devices to make a working model of an early-warning flood defence system. The young people will gain new skills and understanding of the role of technology in flood mitigation. They will present their work and it’s uses at a showcase event for friends and family. There will be four runs of the club, each comprising 5 hour-long sessions, as well as the showcase event https://noisytoys.org/code-the-flow/

Special General Meeting and Annual General Meeting

Our Special General Meeting was held on 13th February to propose a change in the constitution so that the group could become an Incorporated Charitable Organisation. Steve Garrod (Treasurer) presented an overview of the new constitution, Bede Mullen (Chair) proposed the new constitution as presented be adopted, a vote was taken and passed unanimously.

Our Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday 21st April at Hardcastle Crags when we will be launching our latest short films made by Andy Clark. More information on this will be published on social media in the next few weeks.

Slow The Flow – February Blogs

The 1st blog looks at the economics of Upper Catchment small scale attenuation ponds vs Capital Intensive Flood Alleviation Schemes.

The 2nd blog looks gives a great example of what people can do in their own semi-detached back gardens to help water retention.

The 3rd blog is the Oldroyd Attenuation pond referenced earlier in this newsletter

Coming Up, Dates for Diary

Thursday 19th March – Slow The Flow Public Meeting – Mytholmroyd Community Centre

An update on our work and projects to date.  Come and find out how you too can be involved in reducing flood risk in your community

Sunday 21st March – Volunteer Day with The National Trust at Hardcastle Crags

Sunday 12th April – Volunteer Day at Hardcastle Crags with The National Trust

Tuesday 21st April – Slow The Flow AGM at Hardcastle Crags with The National Trust

Sunday 26th April – Volunteer Day at Hardcastle Crags with The National Trust

If you would like to get involved with us at Slow the Flow, please visit us at www.slowtheflow.net

And Finally……..Slow The Flow is entirely run by volunteers. We are primarily concerned with the education and promotion, rather than the delivery, of NFM and SuDS. Calderdale Council has an NFM Officer who will be pleased to hear about any opportunities to utilise NFM and SuDS.  Please email Benjamin.Fenton@calderdale.gov.uk  for more information or to discuss specific projects.

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