Innovative new nature reserve brings environmental benefits

Brearley Fields wetlands from above

Work to create a wetland nature reserve at Brearley Fields in Mytholmroyd is now complete, transforming the former playing fields into a valuable wetland habitat and naturally managing local flood risk.

The project, which is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund, has been designed to increase floodwater storage on the floodplain of the River Calder and also support the creation of new wildlife habitats.

The new wetland features two large permanent ponds and a temporary pond with hollows connected to the river, which fills and drains as river levels naturally rise and fall. It’s estimated that the new features can hold an additional 3000m³ of floodwater, the equivalent of approximately seven 25 metre swimming pools.

These flood storage features have already been successfully used, with a recent storm causing almost a month’s worth of rain in the Upper Calder Valley in one 24-hour period. River levels rapidly increased and the temporary pond filled with flood water; this then drained the next day as river levels fell.

Unlike previous flood events at Brearley Fields, the nearby football pitches stayed dry during this weather event, demonstrating the value of the flood protection the wetland offers to the pitches.

The wetland also has many benefits for local wildlife, with the two large ponds becoming a magnet for wetland birds and invertebrates, with sand martins and kingfishers already being spotted. To allow people to enjoy the new nature reserve, there are also footpaths around the site and plans for seating areas.

Regular volunteer events are also scheduled, with plans to plant reedbeds around the pond areas, which will help to clean floodwater water before it re-enters the river. A recent open day welcomed 70 visitors to explore the new wetland, take part in planting and ‘Balsam bashing’, as well as enjoying guided tours of the site. For more information about future volunteer action days, contact

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

“The new wetland nature reserve at Brearley Fields is part of a wider programme of work across the borough to naturally manage flood risk. These Natural Flood Management (NFM) interventions can collectively result in a significant amount of water being temporarily stored during storm events, reducing the scale and damaging effects of floods.

“Although we can never completely remove the risk faced by flooding in Calderdale, NFM works, like these, help to reduce the risk and complement other flood measures, such as the Environment Agency’s Flood Alleviation Schemes.

“We’ve already seen the wetland’s flood storage capabilities in action, working well to hold water as recent heavy rain caused rising river levels. The site should also benefit the nearby playing fields, protecting them from flood water, resulting in fewer games being postponed.”

The Brearley Fields wetland reserve is part of Calder Greening, a series of projects partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Northern Powerhouse to improve green spaces and complement the Flood Alleviation Schemes with naturally managed flood risk across the Calder Valley. It is delivered in partnership by Calderdale Council, the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.


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