Whalley & Billington – FLood Action Group

Let's make this the best flood action group in the UK

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The floods of December 2015 in northern England – published in Hydrology Research


The report is focussed more on Cumbria than Lancashire -see the follow up questions at the end.  However the  tables in the report do demonstrate just how unusual the events of boxing day 2015 in Whalley both in the build up (rainfall in November / December) and on the day.


[Taken from the report]

  • 17,500 flooded properties

  • Affected much of northern England

  • Some locations were flooded more than once

  • Record 24, 36, 48 hour UK rainfalls

  • New highest recorded flows in England (~1,700m3/s) on Eden, Lune, Tyne

  • Highest-ever recorded flows at many river gauging stations

  • Some locations had their highest floods in the historical record


[With thanks to Hydrology Research]

In December 2015, northern England experienced two major flooding events with extreme, even in some locations unprecedented, rainfalls and flooding. New 24-, 36-, and 48-hour UK rainfall records were created of 341.4, 401.4, and 405.2 mm, respectively. Three river-flow gauging stations, with flows of around 1,700 m3/s exceeded the previous peak flow record for England and Wales. There was widespread flooding, including major towns and cities, some of which had recent flood alleviation schemes. In Cumbria, the flood events in 2005, 2009 and 2015 compared with previous and historical events raise questions about the stationarity of the flood data and flood-producing mechanisms. These possible effects are less apparent elsewhere in northern England. This paper discusses whether present methods of estimating flood risk are able to cope with such extreme events and suggests topics for future research. In the meantime, for studies where flood estimates are important, practical hydrologists are faced with the difficult task of producing design flood estimates which fit with our understanding of these events.


For full report click here Dec 2015 Floding in the North of England hydrology report Peter_Spencer_v1

Table taken from the above report.  Of the rivers mentioned the Calder had the second highest flow rate.

table from hydrology reporton Dec 2015 floods





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E A – change in ‘flooding is possible’ level

Our local environment agency have sent this message today.

“As you may be aware, we have recently made some alterations to the ‘flooding is possible’ line shown at local monitoring stations on the gov.uk website.

The ‘flooding is possible’ line is now set at either the flood alert threshold or 10% below the flood warning threshold for that location. This may be a higher level than you will previously have seen on the website. This is to ensure that there are fewer false alarms, as previously some ‘flooding is possible’ lines were set at a level lower than the flood alert threshold or flood warning threshold for that area.

Please be aware that the lines shown on the website do not alter the point at which the Environment Agency sends out flood alerts and flood warnings via our Flood Warning Service. The triggers for issuing the flood alerts and flood warnings have not changed.

The gov.uk website river levels should only be used as a monitoring tool complementing flood alerts and flood warnings.”

This is the Whalley Weir link.

Everything seems to be calm down there at the moment!




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Responsibility for pipes and pumping stations

Water supply





There is a clear web page maintained by Offwat that outlines responsibilities.

Water companies keep up to date maps of sewers and water mains for which they are responsible. Most but not all pipes within an individual property boundary are the property owner’s responsibility to maintain. Some pumping stations are the responsibility of the landowners, rather than the water company.

For more information please click here

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Environment Agency maps

Risk of river flooding


Risk of surface water flooding


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Lancashire-wide multi-agency flood debriefing session

I have found out that there is a Lancashire-wide multi-agency flood debriefing session taking place on Monday 21st March at the Police Headquarters in Hutton.  I don’t know if you think it’s worth chasing up an invite from your contact at LCC or perhaps just asking for feedback following the meeting?

I’ve found this out because the Ribble Rivers Trust sits on a few ‘Making Space for Water’ groups run by borough councils (although rarely has capacity to attend the meetings).  I wondered if you might find it useful for W&B FLAG to request to attend RVBC’s next Making Space for Water meeting, and perhaps Burnley and Pendle’s too?  There are some ideal areas upstream of Whalley around Altham/Padiham that could take flood water but frustratingly people keep wanting to build on them!  It’s a double-whammy situation because not only do the developments take away the opportunity for flood water storage, they also increase the volume and speed of surface water run-off into the river causing flashier type floods.  The presence of a Flood Action Group at these meetings might add a bit more clout.

I’ll leave it with you, might be something for the Multi-Agency sub group to consider.

Catherine Birtwistle