Floods and why dredging our rivers will be less effective than planting trees

From: Chris Webb, Grosvenor Terrace, Headingley, Leeds.

How can areas like Mytholmroyd be better protected from the floods?

I COULDN’T disagree more with Paul Muller (The Yorkshire Post, February 25).

Dredging rivers to flush water away quickly is impractical, bad for wildlife, and wastes precious resources.

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Creating a fast flowing sluice may “work” by draining certain rural areas, but it is too late for urban ones – there are choke points like the city station culverts on the Aire which would not manage surge flows, so it would simply move the flooding to central Leeds. But even if it were practical, it would be ecologically devastating – eroding soil, washing fish and small mammals out to sea.

In fact it’s the opposite of what we actually ought to be doing; if we restored forested uplands so that they held water naturally, then run-off would be slower and erode less topsoil.

Once the water trickles off the hills, its flow should be held up in the dales valleys and used for small-scale renewable local electricity generation.

Lots of mini-dams would smooth flow, and deposit the silt so it doesn’t need to be dredged downstream, but each would create its own small flood plain, on which we should, of course, avoid building.

This cheap and sustainable solution is likely to be blocked, however, so long as our uplands are “managed” for shooting. Some owners will try to keep the moors draining rapidly and will resist re-wilding, beavers or tree-planting.

On top of that our underfunded councils struggle to keep pace with local tactical planning questions let alone share strategic co-ordination up the catchment area into other local authority areas.

Fortunately some have required permeable paving to reduce pressure on urban drainage, but more low-cost intervention could be done to clear blocked leaves and gravel too.

From: John Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate.

I SYMPATHISE with your correspondent Steven Lord (The Yorkshire Post, February 27) with regard to the allocation of Government funding for flood defences.

Sharing money from a central pot on the basis of market value of the property to be protected is bound to disfavour those regions where prices are lower.

On the other, financing such works out of the general pool of taxation does require some such criterion for approval and this is liable to seem arbitrary and unfair to those who don’t get what they want.