July 22, 2008

Village is Pilot for Flood Defence Scheme

NEW methods to reduce flood risk are being piloted in a Northumberland village.

The Environment Agency is working with Newcastle University to monitor the results of new land management techniques in the catchment upstream of Belford.

More than 30 properties and a caravan park there are at risk of flooding from Belford Burn, but the layout of the village means building traditional flood walls and embankments is too expensive. Managing river catchment areas to cut flood risk is not new but the Belford pilot involves creating many smallscale ponds and pockets of wetland to hold back water, instead of building larger storage reservoirs and altering watercourses.

Farmers and landowners are supporting the pilot by offering corners of fields to create small holding ponds, so surface water drains away more slowly.

Wooden dams across brooks will also help to slow down the water flow.

Their small size means they will more easily become camouflaged by vegetation and the new wetland areas will offer additional habitat for wildlife.

Project team manager Paul Stainer said: "Works can include building an earth bank in the low corner of a field to create a small pond.

"This project is a real trailblazer; the small-scale works are much cheaper than the alternative of larger, conventional schemes and might suit smaller communities."

The pounds 610,000 package has been funded by the Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee's Local Levy, which is raised by local authorities in the North East, and managed by the Environment Agency.

Academics from Newcastle University will be helping to monitor the impact of the initial work, which may be rolled out across the country.

(c) 2008 The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.