Natural Flood Management Open Evening


On Monday 1st November, Todmorden Town Hall proudly hosted the Natural Flood Management open evening event, where representatives from various organisations, primarily local, gave talks and presentations on the role they play in natural flood management (NFM) in Calderdale.

The event was attended by over 80 members of the public and facilitated by Todmorden Town Council.

The talks mainly focused on why flooding occurs in the Upper Calder Valley, how local conservation methods help mitigate flood risk and what we, as individuals and communities, can do to play our own part in this.

There are a wide range of issues and factors that affect the chances of flood occurrence and the severity of the flooding itself, as demonstrated by the varied subject matter that the talks themselves touched upon, such as soil quality, tree planting, land management and geographical factors.

The event closed with an introduction to Todmorden Town Council’s Climate Emergency Pledge, as launched by our Town Mayor Cllr Pat Taylor, who signed the first pledge. Further pledges were then distributed amongst attendees who wished to commit to their own pledges to play their personal part in combatting climate change. The timing of the pledge launch reflects just how much climate change plays a significant part in flood risk, flood frequency and flood severity.

The following lists all the guest speakers at the event, the presentations they made and their contact information:

Stuart Bradshaw & Adrian Horton, Slow the Flow

“How Slow the Flow Support Our Community to Reduce Flood Risk”

Stuart Bradshaw and Adrian Horton are founding members and Trustees at Slow The Flow.   They set up Slow The Flow with other members of the community in 2016 to look at why the Calder Valley floods and to explore how natural methods can make a contribution to reduce flood risk.  Their work is now recognised throughout Yorkshire and around the UK as purveyors of good practise and other communities are building upon this practical work and analysis which has been developed by Slow The Flow.    They work closely with The Environment Agency, Calderdale Council, Yorkshire Water and many other organisations and charities around the UK to develop ideas, strategies and practical applications for Natural Flood Management. 

Stuart Bradshaw is a Civil and Structural Engineer and Adrian Horton works for a vehicle leasing business providing mobility solutions to companies and individuals. 

Stuart and Adrian’s presentation includes examples of natural flood management projects undertaken by the charity in Todmorden.

Dr Jane Rowling, Calder Rivers Trust

“The Multiple Benefit of Healthy Soils”

Jane is the Farm and Rural Liaison Officer for Calder and Colne Rivers Trust. Her work focuses on helping farmers and rural landowners, however large or small, to improve their carbon capture and water quality, while working with nature to support the sustainability of farms and rural businesses. Jane has been working on building the Trust’s capacity for confidential farm advice and soil testing.

Calder and Colne Rivers Trust is a registered charity which cares for the River Calder and its tributaries, covering the Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield areas. The Trust’s activities include working closely with other partners and communities in the Calder catchment to protect and improve waterways. We are one of sixty local organisations which make up the Rivers Trusts Network, a group of environmental charities in the UK and Ireland dedicated to protecting and improving river environments for the benefit of people and wildlife.

What have healthy soils go to do with rivers and flooding?   Jane’s presentation provides an engaging  explanation.

Sarah-Jayne Robins,  Todmorden Flood Group

“Why Todmorden Floods & The Role of the Todmorden Flood Group”

Chair of Todmorden Flood Group, EA flood warden and vice chair of the Community Resilience Operational Group. 

Sarah-Jayne is a founding member of TFG and has worked in partnership with all flood groups in the upper Calder Valley, EA, CMBC, Todmorden parish council and the local third sector since 2012. She regularly gives educational talks regarding how flooding affects Todmorden on both a macro and micro level. SJ has lived experience of flooding in Todmorden and the impact it has on a personal level. SJ has also trained as a mental first aider in order to help her community during flooding events.

Sarah-Jayne’s presentation covers a lot of useful ground, providing information for residents of Todmorden living in the valley where flood impacts hit hardest and on the uplands where action to reduce those impacts can be taken.

Christina Hooley, Treesponsibility

‘Five Ways that Trees Can Help Flood Mitigation” 

Christina’s presetation explores the origins of Treesponsibility, which since its formation in 1998,  has planted an average of 5 hectares every year – that’s over 12 acres of new woodland per year.   Treesponsibility aims to educate people about the need for action on climate change, to involve local communities in tree-planting, and to improve the local environment and biodiversity for the benefit of local people and future generations. In recent years this group has been focussing much of their attention on tree planting for flood mitigation. 

Sally Kelling, Environment Agency

‘Natural Flood Management in Calderdale – Part of the Big Picture” 

Sally Kelling is the NFM lead in the Calderdale Partnerships and Strategic Overview team at the Environment Agency. Her work focuses on strategy, project management, technical support and research. Prior to the Environment Agency Sally has worked in the water industry, local and central government, universities and charities in Yorkshire and internationally using her degree in environmental chemistry and masters in water management.

The Environment Agency works to create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable development.  Within England the Environment Agency are responsible for: regulating major industry and waste; treatment of contaminated land; water quality and resources; fisheries; inland river, estuary and harbour navigations; conservation and ecology. We are also responsible for managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea.

Sally’s presenation looks at how Natural Flood Management fits in with the wider work of the Environment Agency within Calderdale.

Ben Fenton, Calderdale Council

‘The Natural Flood Management Landowner Grant Scheme” 

Ben Fenton is the Natural Flood Management Project Officer at Calderdale Council. A graduate of Environmental Science at Leeds University. Prior to his time at the council, he managed environmental projects at environmental charities, including the official river improvement project for the London 2012 Olympics, and a mile of new reedbed in one of the UK’s most polluted river’s London’s River Lea.  He has worked in partnership with Enfield Council to deliver the CIRIA case study Firs Farm Wetlands and is a Winston Churchill Fellow for his study of sustainable drainage in Seattle and Portland, USA.


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