Wednesday 15th September 2021, 10.25am (day 3,674)
These fences along Old Gate are, doubtless, the prelude to the building of new flood defences in the town. Now one might consider this a good thing, particularly if one’s property has ended up under water on one of the four occasions (count ’em) that the town centre has been inundated even just in the lifetime of this blog (June 2012, July ’12, Dec ’15, Feb ’20).
But in the first place, one can question the necessity of these works — or at least, wonder why they have been prioritised over known strategies of flood prevention that could take place on the moors above the town. But that land is all owned by the Walshaw estate, who want to continue burning heather and ensuring the peat bogs don’t hold the rain that falls, because it’s uneconomic for them to do that; so they push the problem down-valley, and now Heben will push it further down, and unless we build walls all the way down to the North Sea, some poor bastard will get that water in the end.
Second, all this will most likely turn the pleasant, leafy environs of the Hebden Water into a stripped-bare drainage channel — as similar ones have in Mytholmroyd. If the foliage in the background of this shot is still there in a few months’ time, I will take this back. But I doubt it. So the attractiveness of the town centre (and it does matter — many of the shops here would not exist without tourism) will be ruined, and we’ll still be blind to the real causes of the problem; bad land management and climate change.