Slow The Flow - Harnessing the power of nature to reduce flood risk
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Last week, the government published its policy statement on flood and coastal erosion risk management. This £5.2 billion 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".
However, we would encourage the government to allocate much more of the £5.2 billion spend for Natural Flood Management and Sustainable Drainage Systems. £200m is less than 4% of this total figure, and we believe that natural flood management now 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 in our towns and cities.
Leaky Dams at Hardcastle Crags
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 have worked tirelessly with our volunteers to install natural flood management features along Hebden Water and Crimsworth Dean, on the National Trust's Hardcastle Crags estate, resulting in 619 leaky dams, 8 large water storage areas and nearly 900 metres of contour placed logs reducing the risk of flooding into Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and downstream communities.
We 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 significant disruption of such large schemes with regards to pollution and significant congestion.
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 at a lesser cost.
Volunteers to be proud of
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. However, 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 and confident that this money will play a significant part in utilising NFM here in Calderdale and around the UK.
Calderdale Council NFM Grant Fund
In addition to the work at Hardcastle Crags, we have also been supporting the Natural Flood Management (NFM) Grant Fund administered by Calderdale Council to encourage landowners and farmers to develop Natural Flood Management schemes like attenuation ponds for example on their land through payment of a grant.
To date, there are now over 50 schemes being considered around Calderdale and this will make a huge contribution to reducing flood risk if this money from the Government will fund these and many more schemes like this.
More information here - if you think your land maybe suitable for an attenuation pond, tree planting, leaky dams or any other appropriate NFM scheme.
So, while we wholeheartedly welcome the government's commitment to nature-based solutions to help reduce flooding, we also await the details of how this money will be spent. We 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, but we also hope that this will prompt further monies for Natural Flood Management from Government as this programme develops.
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 and how you too can slow the flow.