PIONEERING SCHEME HARNESSES NATURE TO TACKLE FLOODING

Thursday 17th September 2015

(c) Stroud District Council Del Jones of GWT and Chris Uttley of Stroud District Council

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) has been working with Stroud District Council on natural flood defences at its Snows Farm nature reserve in the Slad Valley, Stroud.

Snows Farm nature reserve occupies a very steep sided valley at the head of the Slad Valley, Stroud. The reserve wraps around the Slad Brook, a tributary of the River Frome which flows through Stroud and into the River Severn.

In previous years heavy downpours have caused flooding in Stroud so upstream Stroud District Council have been working with landowners such as ourselves to use trees and other natural flood defense features to reduce the risk of flooding in the area.

This week, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust appeared on BBC Breakfast showcasing this pioneering work and Stroud District Council has released a film (produced in partnership with the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire) about the project and its work with local communities.

Over 60 individual natural flood defences have been constructed as part of the project with many more due to be built this year. The cost of the work is much lower than engineered and hard flood defences and the structures fit well within the landscape.

Project officer, Chris Uttley said:

“Sustainable drainage systems have been in use in the built-up environment for a number of years now and this project uses these same principles but on a much larger scale. The overall aim is to reduce flood risk, improve water quality and restore wildlife.

“We are using a wide range of natural flood management techniques, including the building of large woody leaky dams across streams, excavating dry ponds and diverting flood water into natural soakaways. Some structures work by spreading water over the neighbouring land, others act like baffles, physically slowing down flood flows. All the structures provide great habitats for wildlife, reduce the amount of silt travelling downstream and importantly, slow the rate at which floods travel down the valleys, lowering the peak water height”

The scheme, known as the Rural Sustainable Drainage System (RSuDs), is being funded by the Severn and Wye Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. Stroud District Council is leading on the project with Gloucestershire County Council and the Environment Agency.

The project has also built strong links between local residents, landowners and local organisations.

Mr Uttley added:

“The involvement of local flood groups, landowners and partners such as the National Trust and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has been crucial to the success of the project. Local support and knowledge is essential to ensure that we adopt the right approach in the right place, but also to make sure the project will continue in the longer term beyond the pilot phase.”

For more information on the project please visit the Stroud District Council website.