The fight to save Butterley Reservoir Spillway has been won - for now.
Kirklees councillors unanimously kicked out Yorkshire Water's £6m plan to partially replace the existing stone spillway with concrete sections.
But the water board revealed after the meeting that they will “in all likelihood be lodging an appeal against these decisions”.
Yorkshire Water wanted consent to demolish the lower half of the spillway, which includes the stepped cascades, a prominent feature of the Grade II-listed spillway, to comply with the Reservoirs Act.
It would involve replacing some masonry on the base of the spillway with reinforced concrete, with other works to the cascade and a masonry and concrete wall.
Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney said Yorkshire Water has let Butterley go to “rack and ruin” and said: “It hasn’t been kept up to standard by Yorkshire Water.
“Yorkshire Water is registered in the Cayman Islands and as such they pay no corporation tax... They should find the money to invest in our heritage for the people of the area.”
John Garside, who worked on reservoirs for 28 years, said: “It is a national treasure, it is one of a kind in terms of style and stone work in the whole of England.”
Diane Ellis said Yorkshire Water had failed to provide evidence of justification in causing “significant harm” to the spillway.
Colin Anderson described Butterley as a “jewel” and said “fiddling around with the aesthetic is the wrong approach”.
Clr Nicola Turner said she agreed with residents, that it was about cost and not a plan to prevent a 1 in 20,000 chance of a flood.
“This is a heritage asset not just to Marsden but the whole country, because I believe it is the only listed spillway in the country. We have a duty to protect it,” Clr Turner said.
“We’re asking Yorkshire Water to consider other options, why haven’t they? I would say it’s down to cost. I think Yorkshire Water need to dig a bit deeper in their pockets and come up with something different.”
Matthew Jenkins, a chartered engineer for Yorkshire Water, said contrary to Mr McCartney’s comments they were not allowed to neglect spillways.
Stephanie Walden, Yorkshire Water’s planning manager, said they “have no choice” and believed they had “found a balance between preserving the spillway’s heritage” and fixing its problems.
In the councillors debate, Clr Hilary Richards, said: “I want to keep the sort of spillway we’ve got and hope an alternative can be found without decimating a beautiful piece of art.”
Clr Andrew Cooper moved rejection and said: “This is about visual amenity but Yorkshire Water haven’t presented a visual of how it will look... I think that shows the last self-confidence of their part.”
Yorkshire Water said tonight: “We are already having to actively manage the volume of water held in the reservoir in the face of increased seasonal rainfall, and we need to upgrade the spillway because it plays a vital role in ensuring its safety by allowing water to flow from the reservoir when it is full.
“Our recommendation is supported by the independent reservoir engineer therefore it is wholly inappropriate to suggest that we would put profits before public safety.”
See our recap of how the decision happened with our live coverage of the planning meeting - click here.