Harnessing the power of nature to reduce flood risk

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Last week, the government published its policy statement on flood and coastal erosion risk management  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flood-and-coastal-erosion-risk-management-policy-statement

This £5.2 billon pound investment over the six year period between 2021 and 2027 is most welcome, not just because of the financial commitment to reduce flooding in England, but because of its commitment to “harnessing the power of nature to reduce flood risk”.

We await the details and are encouraged that £200m will be set aside for an innovative resilience programme, which will include support for the voluntary sector to improve capacity and capability to help local and national communities during flood events.

We would encourage the government to allocate much more of the £5.2 billion spend for NFM and SuDS. £200m is less than 4% of this total figure, and we believe that natural flood management has proven its worth. NFM can often be more cost effective than traditional hard engineering solutions, and provides additional Green Infrastructure benefits. It is far better to alleviate flooding upstream, than to push the problem to downstream communities.

Slow The Flow have been harnessing the power of nature to reduce flooding in the upper Calder valley since we were established in 2016. We work hard to champion and implement natural flood management (NFM) and sustainable drainage (SuDS) solutions.

Slow The Flow have worked tirelessly with our volunteers to install NFM features along Hebden Water and Crimsworth Dean, on the National Trust’s Hardcastle Crags estate, resulting in 619 leaky dams, 100 8 large water storage areas and over 890 metres of contour-placed logs, reducing the risk of flooding in Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and downstream communities.

In addition we have been supporting the (NFM) Grant Fund administered by Calderdale Council which encourages landowners and farmers to allow NFM schemes on their land through payment of a grant. To date, there are over 50 schemes being considered. If this Government money will fund future rounds of this and similar schemes, it could make a huge contribution to reducing flood risk in Calderdale.

More information here – http://slowtheflow.net/you-can-volunteer-your-land/ – if you think you land maybe suitable for an attenuation pond, tree planting, leaky dams or any other appropriate NFM scheme.

Slow The Flow started this work because we believed natural flood management had a role to play alongside hard engineering solutions in reducing the risk of flooding in the Calder Valley. We also knew that the hard engineering solutions would take years to plan, design and implement, as has proved to be the case with both the Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge Flood Alleviation Schemes, not to mention the disruption of such large schemes.  Whereas natural flood management is a low-tech, fast response solution which can be easily carried out by a band of willing volunteers or paid contractors.

Volunteers have played an incredible role in the success of our projects around Calderdale. They have simply been the lifeblood of the work we do.  It is now time to upscale these and other NFM projects to ensure proper funding is in place to fund schemes on a much larger scale to mitigate the long lasting effects of climate change.  We are hopeful that this money will play a significant part in accelerating implementation of NFM here in Calderdale and around the UK.

Slow The Flow will be resuming its practical volunteering work as soon as it is safe to do so. Please regularly check our website for updates http://slowtheflow.net and also our social media channels, https://www.facebook.com/slowtheflowcalderdale and on Twitter -slowtheflow_uk

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