IT is something of a David and Goliath battle.

A residents group is today taking on Yorkshire Water in a bid to save Marsden’s Butterley Spillway from tonnes of concrete.

Yorkshire Water need to carry out work to the stunning spillway to comply with legal requirements, but the proposed works have been rejected by Kirklees Council and a campaign group.

Both are taking on Yorkshire Water today on the first day of an eight-day planning inquiry.

Planning Inspector Jennifer Vyse has been appointed by the Secretary of State to hear the arguments for and against Yorkshire Water’s plan to refurbish the spillway.

She said the inquiry will look at the extent and nature of the harm on the Grade II listed spillway caused by the proposed work, the affect on character and appearance on the landscape and whether the harm it will cause will be outweighed by the public benefit of a new spillway.

David Manley, QC for Yorkshire Water, said: “The spillway at present is not fit for purpose.”

Alan Evans, counsel for Kirklees Council, said: “Obviously there is a public benefit to provide a safe spillway for Butterley.”

But he added that Kirklees Council does not believe the proposed works are necessary, adding: “Yorkshire Water has not demonstrated there are other reasonable means of providing spillway provision to Butterley.”

Diane Ellis, of Save Butterley Spillway, said the spillway was “designed to impress”, adding it was “unique, the finest and most impressive of its kind in the country”.

She added they had comments about the quality of Yorkshire Water’s proposed work and that the plan was “engineering led with little on the heritage or landscape until much later on.”

How Butterley Resevoir Spillway would have looked under the plans that were thrown out of council in January last year
How Butterley Resevoir Spillway would have looked under the plans that were thrown out of council in January last year
 

John Garside, a former Yorkshire Water worker, was critical for the plan by his former employer saying if they were being “truthful” they would admit they “haven’t had a plan for the Wessenden Valley for 50 years.”

He described Butterley Spillway as “a statement of the village’s industrial heritage.”

He added: “You say there is no other option, but for Riding Wood in the Holme Valley you left the spillway and built a new concrete one. When you have done an alternative option elsewhere why not at Butterley?”

He added Yorkshire Water couldn’t claim it cared about the environment when they had cut staff in the maintenance of reservoirs from 75 to just 10 now.

Mr Manley, for Yorkshire Water, told him there was no alternative in the Riding Wood case because a replacement on the same site could not pass the probable maximum flood test.

Watch: The inquiry getting underway at Media Centre on Northumberland Street.