Independent review to be carried out after Toddbrook Reservoir incident

Aggregate was dropped by helicopter to shore up the dam wall
Aggregate was dropped by helicopter to shore up the dam wall

An independent review is to be conducted into the incident at Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said it would be commissioned to look at what caused the damage to the dam spillway and whether it could have been prevented.

Around 1,500 residents in Whaley Bridge were forced to leave their homes for almost a week last month over fears the dam wall could collapse and flood the town.

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It sparked a national, multi-agency response to reduce the water level in the reservoir while shoring up the damaged spillway with over 500 tonnes of aggregate.

Ms Villiers said: “We have an excellent reservoir safety record in this country, but it is important that we learn from this incident to ensure such infrastructure, and the legislation that governs it, is and remains fit for purpose.

“Any lessons learned will be shared with other reservoir owners to inform their inspection and maintenance regimes, to be used to make recommendations to ministers to update the implementation of current regulations, including inspection guidance, and/or to suggest any changes required to current reservoir safety legislation.”

An interim report is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The Canal & River Trust, which manages Toddbrook Reservoir, is carrying out its own review into what caused the damage.

In the wake of the incident in Whaley Bridge, the Environment Agency has contacted the operators of over 2,000 reservoirs to request safety checks.

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Additional inspections have also been sought at eight reservoirs with concrete spillways similar to Toddbrook, but Ms Villiers said there had been no indication of any concerns.

In reference to Toddbrook, she added: “A plan is in place to ensure the water levels are monitored and remain at safe levels until full repairs are completed.

“The Canal & River Trust is now fully assessing the damage and identifying the most appropriate long-term repairs to provide confidence in the long-term safety of this dam. As the regulator, the Environment Agency will assess the proposals.

“My officials in Defra will also work with the trust as they consider the long-term future of the reservoir taking into account both the views of the local community and their legal obligations.”