For Earby residents, watching the events at the damaged Whaley Bridge dam may have brought back difficult memories of the 2015 Boxing Day floods that engulfed Earby, flooding homes and businesses. Anyone who has experienced flooding will know how disruptive it is.
In hilly places like Pendle and the High Peak area that includes Whaley Bridge, some occasional rough weather is to be expected and we need our infrastructure to be resilient from the risk of flooding when it comes. In 2015, Earby was not in that position and I’ve been pushing hard ever since to ensure that situation changed.
Although it took much longer than I would have wanted to make Earby safer from flooding, this year we did finally get there with the completion of the £1m Victoria Clough scheme.
The work that has been done involved structurally relining and reinforcing the Victoria Clough culvert. Culverts carry water underground to divert it away from residential areas. They are an essential part of flood defence infrastructure and the one serving this part of Earby is now fit-for-purpose. The work done by the Environment Agency now provides better protection to 91 homes and 17 businesses in Earby and I pay tribute to the work their team has done. However, this is far from the whole solution and I continue to make the case for more funding for additional works across Earby and other parts of Pendle susceptible to flooding.
Keeping our infrastructure up to standard is just one part of responding to the challenges our environment poses. There is a wider need to respond to climate change. Even if it would be misleading to point to climate change whenever there’s a bit of weather, we do know the world is changing as a result of human activity and that involve big risks if we don’t respond.
Having served in the department responsible for the UK’s response to climate change, I was one of those pushing for the ambitious target to end our net carbon emissions by 2050 – the first major economy to make this commitment. I now serve in the department responsible for spreading that message to the rest of the world and to encourage others to act boldly too.
As Earby and Whaley Bridge residents know all too well, there’s a big cost if we fail to protect the environment we live in.