1st Jan 2018

Highlights from a successful year for Shipston Area Flood Action Group

Natural Flood Management

2017 got off to a strong start with news that, with Environment Agency and Warwickshire County Council support, it had secured a £110k grant from DEFRA for its flood alleviation plans.

SAFAG

Project plans for the area, using Natural Flood Management (NFM) techniques had already been developed for SAFAG by the Department of Agroecology at Coventry University. These use natural materials to reduce run off, “slow the flow” and delay the effects of heavy rainfall entering the 36 tributaries that feed the River Stour, upstream of Shipston. They will also improve water quality, wildlife habitat and are significantly less expensive than hard engineering solutions, such as barriers.

The Stour Valley Catchment extends to 187 sq kms, within South Warwickshire, as well as parts of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, from where the largest watercourse, Knee Brook, emanates in the vicinity of Chipping Campden. It is estimated that some 36% of the water feeding the Stour comes from this source as it disperses run off from the hills in this part of the upper catchment, so it made sense to target this area as the first priority.

Partnership working

Thanks to the co-operation and huge support of farmers and landowners and with the dedicated planning and design work of a Project Officer from Coventry University, SAFAG has implemented over 60 NFM interventions across six estates and farms on the Cam, Blockley Brook, Paddlebrook and other feeds to the Knee Brook since the beginning of August.

With continued central and local government financial backing, support from landowners and farmers, and sponsorship from local businesses and housing developers, the Knee Brook project is well on track for completion in the first half of 2018. Once finished, over 200 natural flood defence measures will be in place and will be regularly monitored (both manually and remotely) for efficiency and maintenance requirements.

Hon. Philip Smith of Campden House Estate, who has been extremely supportive of the project, commented “This is just the sort of initiative that should be encouraged by government as it is ‘bottom up’, involving volunteers and experts in land drainage in collaboration with farmers and landowners to the benefit of towns and villages at risk of flooding.”

Getting noticed

Natural Flood ManagementNatural Flood Management projects are being trialled across the UK and as SAFAG is in the vanguard of such schemes, the group has attracted keen interest and visits from the Executive Director of the Environment Agency and his senior management team. At the end of October 2017, Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi joined a SAFAG meeting and visited some of the installations at Campden House. The group members are also working with Warwickshire County Council and the National Flood Forum in their efforts to establish more flood action groups across the county.

The efforts and determination of SAFAG also resulted in the group reaching the final six out of 196 nominations for a National Award in the ‘Flood Re’ Local Heroes Competition.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “SAFAG is a group we should all be very proud of. The volunteers involved have become experts in flood management and it is fantastic to see their efforts recognised, not only in improvements to our flood defences, but in the positive feedback and interest from the Environment Agency and others. On behalf of the town council, I would like to thank all the members for their continued dedication to such an important issue for our town.”

To find out more about flood prevention measures or to follow the progress of SAFAG in the future, visit:

www.shipstonfloodaction.org

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