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Whalley is a village in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire. It is situated alongside the River Calder and a smaller watercourse, Wiswell Brook, that becomes culverted under King Street. Whalley has a long history of flooding with the largest impacts occurring in 1866, 1928, 1964, 2000, 2012, 2015 and 2020.
On 26 December 2015, 196 properties flooded after Storm Eva when the River Calder overtopped its banks. Earlier in December 2015, Wiswell Brook had already overflown due to a blockage and caused extensive flooding along King Street. The water levels and flood extent on 26 Dec 2015 are the greatest on record.
On 9 February 2020, approximately 70 properties reported flooding as a result of King Street culvert overflowing and the River Calder reaching the second highest level ever recorded.
Several partner organisations have been working together to plan and implement better flood risk management in Whalley. This includes the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council, Ribble Valley Borough Council, United Utilities, Whalley & Billington Flood Action Group and the Ribble Rivers Trust.
Several activities have been completed and plans for a large flood risk management scheme have been developed. The plans, costing an estimated £8 million, would provide better protection to over 150 properties and businesses in Whalley by constructing new walls and embankments along the River Calder whilst reducing the change of drainage and culvert overflowing around King Street, Manor Road and Sydney Avenue.
The plans are eligible for Government funding but nearly £5 million of additional money is required before the plans can be finalised. Partner organisations are currently working to identify and secure this additional funding.
Drainage and culvert modifications have been completed at King Street, which reduce the chance of blockages and overflowing. Drainage improvements have been completed at The Sands and drainage investigations are ongoing at Broad Lane.
The Whalley & Billington Flood Action Group has worked hard to improve community resilience. This includes, but is not limited to, communications including a strong presence on social media, preparations prior to heavy rainfall and action during/after flooding. For more details regarding the Flood Action Group please visit, https://whalleyandbillingtonfloodactiongroup.wordpress.com/.
Gravel has been monitored and maintained when necessary under Whalley Bridge. A physical model representing the River Calder has informed the thresholds and frequency of gravel maintenance. The study has confirmed that the gravel has minimal to no widespread impact on flood risk across Whalley.
Flood Alerts and Warnings continue to be monitored and issued. Community members at risk of flooding are encouraged to sign-up for these at https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings.
More information regarding flood resilience can be found at https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/what-to-do-in-a-flood.
Plans for a Whalley Flood Risk Management Scheme started to be developed following the 2015 floods. These plans have been developed in partnership between the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council, Ribble Valley Borough Council, United Utilities and Whalley & Billington Flood Action Group. In 2017-18 it was initially estimated that low-level flood walls along the River Calder and some minor works for King Street culvert would better protect Whalley from flooding. The details of these were shared at a community drop-in event in the village and via several newspapers.
However, more detailed investigations in 2018-19 have since concluded that these initial proposals would not provide sufficient protection. They would also result in higher flood risk for many properties in Whalley, especially around King Street. The plans have subsequently been revised to include additional and more substantial proposals. The details of those latest proposals can be found in the ‘Scheme details’ section.
Disclaimer: Timelines are indicative and based on the current best estimates
The Government has confirmed that construction and work activities can continue to operate during the current Coronavirus pandemic. To support the continued delivery of this we are working very closely with our delivery contractors to ensure they are working to the guidelines published and enforced by Public Health England.
It is vitally important that all of our activities operating during this period ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimise the risk of spread of infection. The measures that Public Health England have put in place ensure consistent measures on all sites of all sizes, especially recommendations around social distancing.
If an activity cannot be undertaken due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available or social distancing being implemented, it should not take place. We will ensure that our staff and contractors workforces at every opportunity are implementing Government guidance to protect them, their colleagues, their families and the UK population as a whole.
Undoubtedly, the Coronavirus has had huge impacts on our daily home and working lives and this has and will result in some delays to us delivering flood risk management activities across the country. These delays are particularly linked to supply chain delays, the ability of us mobilising and deploying people, access to equipment and materials as well as ensuring we can work in public places safely. We continue to progress the development of the flood risk management activities whilst following the guidance provided by the Government. Our activities within Whalley will strictly follow the guidance which can be viewed online at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/construction-and-other-outdoor-work.
The Whalley Flood Risk Management Scheme proposals include new and improved flood walls and/or earth embankments (‘linear defences’) as well as diversions to Wiswell Brook. An improved drainage system, overland flow routing and a new culvert screen are proposed to prevent surface water flooding and the overflowing of King Street culvert. Complementary natural flood management methods in the hills above Wiswell Brook are also being investigated.
The proposals would better protect over 150 homes, local businesses and key infrastructure in Whalley. This includes an additional allowance for the increasing flood risk in the future as a result of climate change. The estimated cost to develop, design and deliver the flood risk management scheme is £8.1 million.
At this stage the EA require £4.9 million of additional funding to continue the flood defence designs. Whalley is eligible for £3.2 million of Government funding if the EA can secure the additionally required £4.9 million. This is the primary focus of the EA’s current and next steps for flood defences enhancements in Whalley. Some funding opportunities have been identified and discussions are ongoing to try to secure those.
There is unfortunately no set timescale or guarantee for predicting if and when all the funding will be secured. All partners involved in the development of these plans are focusing on Whalley as a priority for additional funding and opportunities to deliver improved flood risk management measures at the earliest possible stage.
The Environment Agency would like to continue to keep you informed about the flood risk management in Whalley.
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Reporting Flood incidents (“Floodline”): 0345 988 1188
Reporting Environmental Incident: 0800 80 70 60
Sign-up for Flood Warnings: https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings
General enquiries or issues email: email@example.com
General enquires or issues telephone: 03708 506 506
Post (please note that teams are mostly working from home during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Please allow for more time if contacting the team via post):
Environment Agency – PSO Team
Lutra House, Dodd Way, Walton Summit, Preston, PR5 8BX
Report highway flood issue: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/report-it/ (Lancs County Council) or 0300 126 6701
Report public sewer flood issues: 0345 672 3723 (United Utilities)
Risk to life: 999
Please visit the Whalley & Billington Flood Action Group website to find out more about the group and receive updates:
Sign-up for flood warnings: https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings
Check your preparations for flooding: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/what-to-do-in-a-flood