£450k scheme to better protect a Mytholmroyd school from flooding

Burnley Road Academy flood resilience group photo

A Mytholmroyd school hit by several devastating floods in Calderdale is more resilient to the impact of climate change following a £450,000 project.

Burnley Road Academy has served the village of Mytholmroyd and the local community since 1879. It is a community primary school catering for children in the 3-11 age range with approximately 200 pupils.

The school was severely damaged following the devastating floods of Boxing Day 2015 and February 2020 when 2,781 homes and 1,008 businesses were affected throughout Calderdale.

Following the completion of the £41m Mytholmroyd Flood Alleviation scheme in 2021 – which better protects 400 homes and businesses and the school – £450,000 has now been invested in the new property flood resilience measures as part of working with partners to make the school more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Funding was secured from the Department for Education (DfE) to support a project which saw the Environment Agency working in partnership with both the DfE and Calderdale Council to install puddle pumps, sump pumps, air brick covers, flood barriers, flood gates, a flood door, non-return valves and re-pointing and rendering the walls. Design and construction was completed by PFR Framework providers to the Environment Agency, Watertight International.

Earlier this year, the Environment Agency and partners Flood Re, the joint initiative between the Government and the insurance industry, launched the Be Flood Smart(external link) campaign to encourage householders to adapt their homes with PFR to protect themselves better against the impacts of future floods. Research shows PFR measures limit the cost of repair work for properties after a major flood by as much as 73%.

Paul Swales, Senior Flood Risk Advisor, said:

“We have been working to reduce the risk of flooding in this community since 2016 and to see the completed works at the school is a proud moment for myself and the Environment Agency. The brilliant partnership working has been fundamental to the success of the project and to have the school even better protected from future flood risk is fantastic.

“With the increasing impact of climate change, it is impossible to completely stop the risk of flooding, particularly in the Calder Valley due to the geography of the area. While the scheme won’t prevent the frequency of floods or their severity, it will give the school a better standard of protection and give valuable time to prepare for the risk of flooding.

Cllr Scott Patient, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Active Travel and Housing, said:

“This is another major step forward in our joint action against climate change across Calderdale. It comes as we mark seven years of the Calderdale Flood Action Plan, with incredible progress for flood resilience since the plan launched after the Boxing Day 2015 floods.

“Sadly, climate change means we live with an increased threat of flooding throughout the borough. As a Mytholmroyd resident whose children attended Burnley Road Academy, I have seen first-hand how devastating the impact can be.

“The amazing partnership work to boost flood resilience at the school is part of the Council’s priority to tackle the climate emergency, and we continue to do all we can to protect local people, businesses and the environment.

Clare Cope, Headteacher of Burnley Road Academy, said:

“We are delighted that the flood resilience measures have been installed and are very grateful to the DfE, the Environment Agency and Watertight for everything they have done to make this happen. The extreme impact of the floods in 2015 and 2020 devastated not only the buildings but the whole school community. We now feel much safer knowing that we are better protected from future flood risk.”

Amy Greenough DfE Schools Water Strategy Project Lead said:

“We are committed to making our education settings more resilient to flooding. In partnership with the Environment Agency, water companies, and local authorities we will deliver a water strategy that includes reducing the flood risk in over 800 schools by 2026.

“We are confident that our water strategy will make a significant contribution to the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change and protect our education settings from the impacts of flooding and drought.”

Mark Arrowsmith, Operations Director of Watertight International, said:

“This collaborative project between the Department of Education, Environment Agency, and Watertight will help bring peace of mind to the staff, students and parents of Burnley Road Academy. Our property flood resilience measures, designed to deal with residual risk from the main Mytholmroyd Flood Alleviation Scheme not only support the school with flood preparedness, but includes innovative resistance and recoverability measures to create an effective flood management strategy. The work doesn’t stop here, and we will continue to support the school, not only with maintaining the PFR measures, but in supporting education initiatives to teach the children and the wider community about the climate adaptation works to protect the school both now and in the future.”

The project team has worked closely with the school in terms of the design and timings of the works, most of which were undertaken during school holidays to minimise disruption to pupils and staff.  

The DfE’s Sustainability and climate change strategy(external link) sets out the role the department will play in all aspects of sustainability. The department is committed to making our education settings more sustainable and resilient to climate change. Its water strategy, in partnership with the Environment Agency, water companies, and local authorities, will aim to deliver improved flood resilience, sustainable urban drainage, water efficiency, and resilience to drought.

The Government is in the third year of a six-year £5.2 billion investment programme and in that time has invested more than £1.8 billion to protect more than 60,000 homes and businesses better from the risk of flooding. This takes the total number of properties protected since 2015 to 374,000. Further locations across the Calder Valley are to benefit from this investment, including, but not limited to, Hebden Bridge, Brighouse, Walsden, Sowerby Bridge and Copley.

The Environment Agency has set out its vision for a nation ready for, and resilient to flooding in its National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy(external link)

The project has been unveiled during Flood Action Week, which aims to increase awareness of the risk of flooding and what people can do to prepare.

Residents are urged to sign up for free flood warnings to get vital time to save themselves and their possessions from the devastating effects of flooding by visiting Sign up for flood warnings(external link) or contacting Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

They can also check their flood risk online at Check for flooding(external link).

Find out what to do when you receive a flood warning and how to prepare for a flood at Prepare for flooding(external link).

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