July 29, 2008
Pilot Project to Cut Flood Risk
NEW methods to cut flood risk and protect homes are being piloted in Northumberland.
The Environment Agency is working with Newcastle University to monitor the results of land management techniques upstream of Belford.
More than 30 buildings and a caravan park in the town are at risk of flooding from Belford Burn. But the layout of the town means building traditional floodwalls and embankments is too expensive.
The Belford pilot involves creating small-scale 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 holding ponds so surface water drains more slowly.
Wooden dams across brooks will also help slow waterflow.
Project team manager Paul Stainer said: "This project is a trailblazer. The small-scale works are much cheaper than the alternative of larger, conventional schemes and might suit smaller communities."
The Belford pilot also includes individual flood protection devices at some properties and the introduction of a flood warning service.
The pounds 610,000 package has been paid for by the Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee local levy, raised by councils and managed by the Environment Agency. If successful the project could be repeated elsewhere.
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