BLOCKAGES are being tackled along 2,300 kilometres of Yorkshire’s rivers this winter as part of a clear-up to prevent flooding.
Staff from the Environment Agency will be walking the banks to inspect the watercourses, looking for the kind of objects that could cause flooding by blocking the channel or trapping more debris and building up a dam.
In West Yorkshire, on the catchment of the Rivers Calder, Colne, Wharfe and Aire, officers will be patrolling waterways in Calderdale, Kirklees, Ilkley, Bramham, Leeds, Wakefield, and Bradford.
Obstructions in the river can increase the risk of flooding, so staff routinely patrol rivers in the winter months.
The hazards can be natural ones, such as fallen trees that have been washed downstream, and sometimes they are man-made problems such as abandoned vehicles or fly-tipped waste like fridges and furniture.
The Environment Agency’s operations delivery teams tour all the main watercourses between November and March to remove those obstructions that can safely be pulled out of the river.
However, objects such as trees and large fly-tipped items cannot be easily or safely dealt with, so staff have to return with specialist lifting equipment at a later date.
Peter Holmes, operations delivery manager at the Environment Agency, said:
“Dumped vehicles can cause serious pollution problems if the petrol tank ruptures or oil escapes, so we need to be very careful.
“Sometimes we find potentially dangerous waste such as unlabelled drums or clinical waste that needs to be removed and investigated so it can be disposed of properly.
And we always find shopping trolleys.”
The channel clearance work is essential to prevent flooding, but it is costly and time-consuming, and Peter is asking the public to help out:
“We can all do our bit by disposing of waste correctly, but if people do spot large obstructions that could result in flooding they can ring our incident hotline on 0800 807060”.