Whaley Bridge dam emergency prompts independent review

Toddbrook Reservoir dam Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A major effort was carried out to secure the dam

An independent review is to be held into the partial collapse of a reservoir dam in Whaley Bridge.

More than 1,500 people were ordered to evacuate the Derbyshire town last month over fears the dam could collapse and threaten the lives of residents.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said the review would examine what caused the damage and whether it could have been prevented.

Repairs to the Toddbrook Reservoir dam are expected to take up to three years.

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 would be shared with other reservoir owners and could be used to shape changes to reservoir safety legislation, she added.

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

Ms Villiers said the crisis had prompted the Environment Agency to order safety checks at 2,000 reservoirs across the country.

She said additional inspections had been carried out at eight reservoirs with concrete spillways similar to Toddbrook Reservoir but at this stage there were no safety concerns.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Water was pumped from the reduce the risk of the dam collapsing

During the emergency evacuation in Whaley Bridge, the fire service continually pumped water from the reservoir while an RAF Chinook was used to shore up the damaged spillway using 500 bags of aggregate.

Residents were allowed to return home when it was deemed the structure was no longer at risk of collapse.

The dam's owner, the Canal and River Trust, is also preparing a report into what caused the damage.

Ms Villiers said: "[The 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."

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