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Slow the Flow - Keeping Natural Flood Management on the agenda!

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Slow The Flow is a charity working to advance the education of the public in Natural Flood Management (NFM), Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and other natural methods to protect the environment in which we live.

Our NFM and SuDS projects around Calderdale continue to develop and are starting to make a tangible difference to people who live, work and travel throughout this part of the world.

The basis for a lot of our work is contained in documents published by the Environment Agency can be found here

In 2019, our reach and influence in the field of NFM & SuDS now extends around the UK and our work is perceived as pioneering in many quarters.  We simply would not have achieved this reputation without the continued support of our dedicated trustees, our incredible volunteers, our partner agencies, our friends and fundraisers.

Earlier in the summer, the BBC Countryfile programme visited our NFM scheme in Hardcastle Crags.  Matt Baker came to look at the work we are doing and got involved in building a few leaky dams.  We have also appeared on BBC Look North and the BBC Radio 4 iPM programme during 2019, the latter at the request of one of our oldest and most dedicated volunteers who was keen to share his experience of working with us. 

It is very important that the work we are doing is shared around the UK so other flood affected communities can benefit from the work we do to reduce flood risk and media exposure assists with spreading our message.  Flood risk affects 1 in 6 homes in the UK so there is a lot to be learned from the work we do here in Calderdale which we want to share with all flood affected communities. 

We continue to be grateful for the publicity these programmes bring and look forward to sharing our knowledge through local and national Media in the coming year.

Slow the Flow

In November, we won the Community Foundation for Calderdale Award for ‘Best New Charity’.  This is the third award the Community Foundation for Calderdale has awarded us.  In 2017 & 2018, we won the ‘Great & Green’ Award.

Slow the Flow

In the last year, as well as organising our own fundraising events, we have had Grants from Hebden Royd Town Council and the Community Foundation for Calderdale, both of which have contributed to our various activities and projects.  Without this financial help, we simply would not have achieved the successes we have had in 2019 so a HUGE Thank You to these organisations for their continued support.

Our biggest fundraising success in 2019 was a charity benefit gig at Hebden Bridge Picture House in December when local comedian Jon Richardson performed for us.  Thanks to the generosity of Jon and his other support acts (pictured below), we raised a significant amount of money which will help us hugely in 2020 to fund our projects and initiatives.  More about these below.

Slow the Flow

We are also planning to participate again in the ‘Yorkshire Tough Mudder’ event in August 2020.  If you want to take part with us, please contact us and we will be very pleased to have you participate with us. We will also be fundraising so we hope you will support us either by donating or by taking part with us on these 10 mile / 30 obstacle assault courses at Broughton Hall, Skipton on August 1st 2020. 

Our projects – NFM Pilot Project at Hardcastle Crags 

During 2019, 100’s of local people continued to join us at Hardcastle Crags and Crimsworth Dene building an ever-increasing number of leaky dams and a growing number of storage areas.  This number of leaky dams grows monthly with on average another 10+ being added each month bringing the current total to approaching 500.

Slow the Flow

We are currently working in Crimsworth Dene where the dams being built are larger and deeper than the ones in Hardcastle Crags due to deeper incised gullies feeding Crimsworth Dean Beck. They are all functioning well, slowing the flow, reducing erosive damage and storing water which can be a dramatic sight during a storm.

Monitoring at Hardcastle Crags

In the early spring and late Autumn, we had some significant rainfall events, and you can see the results of the near miss in March on our website in this blog.

The stream and river level monitoring project will continue through 2020 and we will be publishing ongoing results from this monitoring throughout the year.  Ironically, we are completely dependent on rainfall for the monitoring to prove the merits of this work, however, over time with more data, it will hopefully provide measurable evidence of the influence of our leaky dams and other improvements within the woodland at Hardcastle Crags.

You Can Slow The Flow using SuDS.

Leaky dams and tree planting are not the only ways to help – there are lots of ways to slow the flow in our towns and villages.   Our information about urban Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) continues to be well used and is now utilised by schools to show how simple measures can make small but significant differences to flood risk.

In 2019, we helped the incredible Mytholmroyd Flood Wardens to complete a green roof on their flood store in the Shoulder of Mutton car park in Mytholmroyd.  This is a perfect and simple example of what householders and landowners can do to attenuate water on their own land, resulting in less run off and reducing flood risk.  It is a fantastic example of what a community can achieve by utilising a simple and cost-effective SuDs scheme. 

We will be installing an information board there, to help get the message about SuDS to more people and to show how simple it is to do.

Slow the Flow

We have already had some success in Mytholmroyd with a couple of proposed developments where building schemes have been proposed and proposed SuDs schemes have been adopted or planned.  The old Co-Op building has had planning approved for some planters in their car park as part of the redevelopment as a restaurant.  This was a condition of the planning consent.

A New Green Roof has been approved on the new bus stop in the middle of Mytholmroyd by New Road.  This is a perfect example of a low-cost solution to attenuate a small amount of rain water falling on a relatively small surface area.

There is also a proposal to build four Eco Houses on George Street which include many environmental solutions to reduce the impact on the environment, including green roofs on each house.  Work should start on these in 2020.

Finally, we are also in discussion with Network Rail, Mytholmroyd Station Partnership and local councillors about putting a SuDS scheme in the new extended car park at Mytholmroyd Station.  There is still some work to do here and to date, no SuDS scheme has been approved, but we will continue to press for some as the planning process develops.

If you are aware of any proposed building schemes in your communities and you would like Slow The Flow to advise on the best type of SuDs or NFM scheme to adopt, please do get in touch.  The more schemes that adopt such measures, the greater chance that local flood risk can be reduced by small margins and at little cost.  

Please help to slow the flow at home or work, and spread the word to your family and friends - the more people get involved, the bigger the impact will be.

NFM and SuDS opportunities mapping in Mytholmroyd.

In the Autumn of 2019, Slow The Flow completed an opportunity mapping study for a pilot area within the Hebden Royd parish covering northern Mytholmroyd, just west of Halifax. This was funded by the Community Foundation for Calderdale and Hebden Royd Town Council and maps possible NFM & SuDS interventions which members of the public could implement on their own land or on public land, with the relevant permissions of course.

The map is available on our website.

Slow the Flow

It was produced in the hope that it will encourage people to take a look and get inspired by how many small actions are achievable and could make a big difference to local flood alleviation if they were all implemented. The green roof on the Mytholmroyd Flood Store is a perfect example of this (see above).

If you live or work in this area and we have identified an area of your community, have a look at the suggested intervention and see if could implement a small NFM or SuDS scheme yourself.

Please let us know when you take action, however small. Every little helps, and we love to know what you are doing!

If you do take action in this way, please submit a case study www.slowtheflow.net/case-studies/ or email us and we will publish this on our website.

Youth Project with Noisy Toys

Slow the Flow commissioned Noisy Toys, a local company in Hebden Bridge, to introduce young people to NFM opportunities using a grant provided by The Community Foundation for Calderdale funded by The Youth Social Action Programme #iwill (The Big Lottery Fund and The Department of Culture, Media and Sport), a national initiative aimed at getting 6 out of 10 young people involved in social action by 2020.

Over 200 Calderdale Year 8 students participated in workshops where they learned about NFM principles and were invited to suggest their own ideas for action in the community.

As a result, the overwhelming majority offered to help plant trees in their spare time in projects planned for Spring 2010.

Other students attended after-school workshops exploring the technology of river level sensors and demonstrated the devices they built in a public showcase where they also explained their use in flood-prone areas.

One of our objectives at Slow The Flow is to try and be as inclusive as possible by encouraging participation as many different age groups as we can.  Not only have young people participated in this Youth Project, but we regularly have local young people taking on the ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ Award scheme with us at Hardcastle Crags.  They typically volunteer with us twice a month for 3-4 months and we get lots of keen and enthusiastic young people attending with their parents.  (Under 18’s have to be accompanied by an adult so we get plenty of involvement by families too).  Please contact us if you would like to join us as part of your ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ Award.

Slow The Flow NFM Conference March 2019

One of the highlights of this year was our NFM Conference in March.  We had representatives from flooded communities and delegates from as far away as the South of England and Scotland.  We were very fortunate to have speakers from The Environment Agency, Calderdale Council, the National Flood Forum and the Mersey Forest.

The purpose of the NFM conference was to invite other flood affected communities to explore with us about what we have done in the Calder Valley to reduce flood risk and to benefit from our experience.  It was hoped that these learnings and experience could then be adopted in some way in other parts of the UK.

The event was very successful and all the attendees, including ourselves, learned a lot about flood risk, slowing the flow, and the impact of climate change on our communities. 
If you live in a community at risk of flooding, you can see all of our presentations from the weekend on our website. Here's the link 

What’s next for the New Decade?

As we move into 2020, our work continues as enthusiastically as our previous three and a half years! We are working on developing schemes in other areas around Calderdale as well as partnering with other organisations to share volunteer expertise, knowledge and feet on the ground!

It is also imperative that we keep the issue of NFM and working with natural methods on the agenda both locally in Calderdale and nationally.  However, there is still a lot to do! If you would like to help us lobby both locally and nationally for the promotion of natural processes, please do get in touch.

The Calderdale Council NFM Grant Fund set up in 2018 is still identifying areas for NFM, and although progress has been very slow for a variety of reasons, we continue to promote and lobby for more NFM within Calderdale Council and to ensure all of our communities benefit from the work our volunteers have done.

Calderdale have just appointed a new NFM Officer and we look forward to working with him to ensure that natural processes and methods are used to combat the effects of climate change and the continued risk of flooding in Calderdale.

Slow The Flow is also represented on the Calderdale Council Climate Change Working Party ensuring that NFM and SuDS are being utilised in the fight against the effects of Climate Change.  Calderdale Council have an aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2038 throughout the borough so it is imperative that we are involved in this process to reduce the carbon in our daily lives.  NFM and SuDS will pay an important role in the success of this project and will certainly help to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

As well as our continuing work at Hardcastle Crags, we are also planning other volunteering opportunities in 2020 so keep an eye on our website and on social media.  2020 is going to be an exciting year for Slow The Flow and we hope you will get involved with us in one way or another. 

And Finally, our trustees at Slow The Flow continue to work incredibly hard on all the various projects we have taken on.  Thousands of hours have been spent working on Slow The Flow initiatives since 2016 and we are very lucky to have such a dedicated team leading the way to promote our work with natural processes!

We have also bolstered our team at Slow The Flow by having two additional trustees; Katie Kimber and Warren Goodall. Katie and Warren are already making an impact on the team by providing effective and robust communication to the communities in Calderdale and are a key part of promoting the very many benefits of NFM.

More information on our trustees - can be found here  Our trustees all have day jobs so we are very reliant on others to promote and continue the work we have started.  If you would like to be considered as a Trustee, please contact us for more information.

Get Involved . . .

Volunteering is the bedrock of what we do and we simply would not have managed or achieved what we have without the 100s of volunteers and the significant hours of dedication our volunteers and trustees have put in.

If you would like to get involved or would like more information on our work and how you can help yourself and your community alleviate flood risk, please contact us. 

Our website www.slowtheflow.net is full of useful info on NFM and SuDS.

You can also email secretary@slowtheflow.net for more information.