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Gill Heath
County Councillor Gill Heath

New flood defence project helps both people and wildlife

Staffordshire’s leading nature conservation charity is helping protect communities and create new wildlife habitats by tackling flooding and improving water quality through its ‘Nature’s Flood Defence’ project.

The project, led by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Staffordshire County Council, Warwickshire County Council and the Environment Agency, aims to help protect people from flooding and create new wildlife habitats.

The project uses natural flood management (NFM) techniques to delay the time water takes to flow downstream. By slowing the flow and holding water away from homes and businesses in new wetlands and complex habitats, communities are better protected from the risk of flooding.

This project and funding is additional to the funding the government recently announced for natural flood management schemes. Examples include slowing down fast water flows by placing trees across watercourses and by ‘roughing up’ the vegetation that buffer streams; storing water by creating new wetlands such as ponds, reed beds and washlands, increasing soil infiltration by reducing grazing pressure and reverting areas of arable land to grassland.

In Staffordshire, the trust is also working with a wide range of partners including farmers, private landowners and the Staffordshire Trent Valley Catchment Partnership.

Natural flood management is already proving a cost-effective solution to helping to reduce flood risk at Stone by working along the Scotch Brook and its tributaries. Stone is at risk of flooding when the Scotch Brook culvert under the town blocks with sediment. This project will store both water and sediment upstream reducing sediment entering the culvert. This also means the Environment Agency will need to maintain the culvert less so it reduces maintenance and overall costs.

The trust has recently completed two further NFM schemes near the Scotch Brook recently, one to create natural features across Cotwalton Drumble, an ancient woodland and local wildlife Site. These natural features included log jams and enhanced wetland and woodland habitats which will help to slow the flow of water along this tributary of the Scotch Brook.

Meanwhile, further downstream, a new area to store flood water run-off, along with a new wildlife pond and reed swamp in an area which collects water and silt which was previously connected straight into the watercourse.

Nick Mott, from the Trust, said:

We are experiencing extremes of weather as we lurch between bone dry drought conditions and violent flash floods. This partnership project has been set up to help re-think the way we manage our land to protect against these extremes. Our job as ecologists is to make sure the techniques we’re using are benefiting both people and wildlife.”

Staffordshire County Council’s communities’ leader Gill Heath said:

This is a five year project funded through the Trent Regional Flood and Coastal Committee aimed at reducing flood risk and improving habitat throughout the Trent catchment in Staffordshire and Warwickshire. Nature’s Flood Defence is also working throughout much of Staffordshire and North Warwickshire to help protect other flood-prone settlements including Stafford, Leek, Leekbrook, Cheddleton, Endon, Marchington, Penkridge, Fillongley and Tamworth.”

Matthew Lawrence from the Environment Agency said

We’re proud to be part of this project; combining innovative natural flood management techniques while improving habitat and water quality is an important part of the Environment Agency’s approach to tackling the risk of flooding.”