Campaigners have lost a landmark battle to save a historic Marsden spillway.
The Save Butterley Spillway (SBS) group has been left ‘extremely disappointed’ after an independent planning inspector ruled in favour of Yorkshire Water, who want to transform the Grade II-listed stone structure with concrete.
A final decision was made today when the company was given planning permission to begin works on the ornate structure by government-appointed Jennifer Vyse .
The ruling followed an eight-day planning inquiry in January, in which she heard arguments for and against Yorkshire Water’s plan to refurbish the spillway to comply with legal requirements to prevent flooding.
The spillway was built between 1891 and 1906, by engineers Thomas and Charles Hawksley.
The decision comes after a lengthy and unrelenting fight by concerned SBS campaigners, who have fought to block the planned designs since June 2013.
They feared that the appearance and character of the Victorian spillway will be damaged by Yorkshire Water’s replacement of the stone spillway with reinforced concrete, However, they did not object to the need for modernisation.
Diane Ellis, head of the SBS campaign, said: “Personally, I’m not surprised.
“Yorkshire Water put up a good defence at the inquiry and I was persuaded by some of their points after hearing the evidence from the engineering perspective.
“However, it’s a shame that it took the process for Yorkshire Water to prove that their plans were robust.
“I don’t feel that their original plans contained enough information and I also feel they haven’t explored all the options.
“The biggest loss is to the cascade section, the curved stepped parts of the spillway, which is such a shame.”
Dianne spoke of her pride in the group over the years, which made Yorkshire Water re-think its design.
She said: “We’re immensely proud of our efforts and the fact that the scheme which has been approved is a vast improvement over the complete concrete option which was initially proposed.
“Another important thing is the good relationship that SBS and Yorkshire Water now has.
“Following the decision they’ve already been in touch to say they want to remain in close contact with us and want to use our historical research.”
During the heated inquiry Kirklees Council dramatically dropped their objections due to the strength of evidence given.
A spokesman for Yorkshire Water, said: “In putting forward our proposal, our number one priority has always been the protection of public safety.
“We are now in the process of working through the findings of the Inspector’s report and will continue to liaise with representatives of the local community as we take the project forward.”