A town councillor and construction industry expert has accused Kirklees Council of failing to address flood risk or climate change in the new Local Plan.
Mirfield town councillor Steve Benson warned before the Boxing Day floods that 27,000 homes in Kirklees – 15% of the total – were at risk of flooding .
And he claimed Kirklees Council had done little to address the flood risk in its draft Local Plan, a planning blueprint which allocates land for development.
Volunteers help clean up flood damage in Mirfield
Clr Benson quoted the council’s own Local Flood Risk Management Strategy in 2012 which said 12,000 homes were at risk from river flooding and 15,000 from other water sources.
He said heavy rainfall in November and December had shown that the old rules about a “one in 100 years” storm event were out-dated.
There were floods in parts of Mirfield twice in December and Clr Benson said Kirklees had to go back to the drawing board.
“Kirklees has done nothing about flooding or climate change and hasn’t put any land aside for wind turbines or the like,” said Clr Benson.
“It seems anybody can stick a local plan together using the old rules but we need new thinking.”
At a full council meeting last month Kirklees planning chief Clr Peter McBride was quizzed on the flood risk for the 30,000 new homes proposed in the Local Plan.
Clr McBride said investigations had been carried out in consultation with the Environment Agency and insisted there was no need for a review in the wake of the Boxing Day floods .
Businesses bore the brunt of the Boxing Day floods in Mirfield – one of the worst-hit, the Ship Inn in Steanard Lane, remains closed – but the flood risk strategy from 2012 said that 500 homes in the town were at risk.
Flooding in Mirfield
Clr Benson said that figure had probably risen since Boxing Day and Kirklees had to investigate.
He said beyond flooding the council had to look at renewable and low carbon energy and added: “Kirklees had a once in a lifetime opportunity to produce a Local Plan to be envied by other authorities across the UK but they have blown it. Our future is in the hands of a bunch of dinosaurs.”
Clr Benson has drawn up his own vision of a ‘green’ Mirfield complete with energy-efficient homes, a wind farm and leisure activities on the flood plain.
He contrasted that with a ‘grey’ vision of a traffic-congested town with flooded businesses and power stations belching out fumes.
A council spokesman said the council had worked closely with the Environment Agency on the draft Local Plan and had a strategy to address flood risk.