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Footpath work is latest stage in moorland flood prevention project

Moorland footpaths before the work is carried out

Bradford Council’s partnership project to reduce flooding coming from Ilkley Moor has now turned to moorland footpaths.

Machinery has been brought on to the site this week to aid with installing stone and aggregate ‘gutters’ to reduce the amount of surface water accumulating on the footpaths and flowing directly into Backstone Beck.

The work will aim to slow and redirect the flow of water coming down from the hillside to reduce the likelihood of flooding from excess water flowing into the Beck and eventually the River Wharfe.

Existing stone from the moor will be used where possible so that imported material can be kept to a minimum. Footpaths will remain open while the work is being carried out, but walkers are asked to try to avoid the working area if possible to allow ground workers to continue safely.

The work is expected to be completed by the end of March 2022.

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, said: “This project is progressing well with a lot of hard work from our drainage and countryside teams, along with our partners at the Environment Agency and Moors for the Future. It will have multiple benefits for the area, local people and visitors to the moor.”

This is the latest stage in the Backstone Beck Natural Flood Management Project, an ongoing partnership project with Bradford Council and the Environment Agency that is using natural flood management techniques to reduce the risk of flooding from Ilkley Moor.

The project is funded by DEFRA as part of a national suite of pilot projects to test the efficiency of natural flood management on a catchment scale and is being delivered by the Peak District National Park-based Moors for the Future Partnership.

Claire Tunningley, Environment Programme Team Leader at the Environment Agency, said: “After recently completing nature-based solutions such as leaky dams and earth embankments on the moor the project team is now moving forward to reduce the surface water run-off from the footpaths. This will have multiple benefits for people and wildlife and it’s great to see it progressing well.

“We have been working with a number of partners to reduce flood risk across the region through nature-based solutions over the last few years and these works will ensure that in addition to reducing flood risk we have modified the landscape in a way which makes it more resilient for future generations.”

Nature-based solutions are being applied to re-naturalise the moor (meaning it stores more water), restore peatland and slow the flow of water from the moor to the river, reducing flood risk to properties at the bottom of the Backstone Beck river catchment.

Previous work on the project has included blocking man-made drainage ditches and installing timber leaky barriers to prevent erosion and encourage the regeneration of peat at the top of the catchment to store carbon on the moor tops. Sphagnum moss has also been planted to encourage peat formation, boosting biodiversity, storing carbon and helping address climate change.

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