A group of organisations from the Cumbria Strategic Flood Partnership have produced a practical guide to natural flood management measures which has been released this week to aid farmers, landowners and other interested organisations with opportunities to help reduce flood risk across Cumbria and Lancashire.
Natural flood management covers a whole range of measures that can be used to temporarily hold flood water in the landscape for longer, reducing the amount and speed of water reaching towns and villages. These measures deliver other benefits such as cleaning water, storing carbon or improving habitat and, in many cases, can also benefit farm businesses.
Examples of natural flood management techniques on rivers include: keeping soil in good condition, creating and restoring hedgerows, recreating wetlands and peat bog, building woody dams across rivers to slow the flow of water in storm conditions, temporary water storage areas and planting trees.
The new information guide outlines what natural flood management measures involve, how much they might cost and what funding could be available for implementing them, as well as sources of advice and contact details of organisations involved in managing flood risk and the natural environment.
Caitlin Pearson, West Cumbria Rivers Trust Project Manager, said: “Natural flood management is not a full solution to reducing flood risk, but it can help, particularly for smaller rivers, and can reduce the pressure on engineered flood defences.
The aim isn’t to make land wetter but to hold water in the landscape for just a few hours longer during a storm then let water drain away slowly. This will reduce the amount of water travelling downstream all at once and help reduce the occurrence of devastating flooding.
This is part of the wider work of West Cumbria Rivers Trust and partner organisations as part of the Cumbria Strategic Flood Partnership aiming to increase the uptake of natural flood management measures.
We are delivering natural flood management projects, holding workshops and group meetings and visiting farmers for one to one discussions about the opportunities on their land. We would love to hear from any interested landowners.”
Stewart Mounsey, Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager, said: “Natural flood management is an important part of our strategy in protecting communities from flood risk.
“It can be a cost-effective and sustainable way to manage flood risk alongside and supporting traditional engineering, while creating habitat for wildlife and helping regenerate rural and urban areas through tourism.
“We always advise people know their flood risk and prepare in advance. Check your flood risk, know what to do if flooding was expected, and be ready to respond. You can check your flood risk at https://www.gov.uk/check-if-youre-at-risk-of-flooding”
Copies of the booklet can be picked up from West Cumbria Rivers Trust offices at 32 Lake Road, Keswick or can be viewed online at: www.westcumbriariverstrust.org/projects/natural-flood-managment
The guide is based on a similar booklet produced by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority which was requested by landowners and has been very well received. The booklet has been funded by West Cumbria Rivers Trust, Newground, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Environment Agency.
The Cumbria Strategic Flood Partnership brings together Flood Risk Management Authorities including Environment Agency, Cumbria County Council, District Councils, United Utilities and a wide range of representatives from other organisations and community groups who have an interest or responsibility for flood risk management.