Wear Rivers Trust is currently working with the Environment Agency and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on a £2.1 million Natural Flood Management (NFM) pilot project to reduce the risk of flooding in Weardale.
NFM features are specifically designed to work with the natural processes in the landscape to slow river flows and reduce flood risk. As with traditional flood walls and embankments they are a tool to help reduce risk but can never eliminate the risk of flooding entirely.
The Weardale Natural Flood Management (NFM) pilot project will see the Environment Agency investigate and deliver natural features across a 100km squared area to reduce the risk of flooding to 141 properties. The project is taking place in the Killhope, Middlehope, Stanhope, Rookhope and Ireshope river catchments.
Wear Rivers Trust is currently carrying out landowner engagement and assessment of NFM techniques that might help reduce flood risk in Weardale and towns and villages including Stanhope, Westgate, Eastgate and Wolsingham.
Other partners in this wide ranging project include Natural England, Forestry Commission and Durham County Council.
The trust is working with local farmers and landowners who are interested in getting involved in the project to assess the impact of different NFM features. Over the coming months we will be visiting landowners and investigating opportunities for installing NFM measures at strategic locations in the landscape.
Using NFM across such a large area is a new concept, the Weardale project will allow the Environment Agency to gather and understand evidence to support that natural flood management can play a role in reducing flood risk.
Natural flood management is when natural processes are used to reduce the risk of flooding and coastal erosion. Examples include: restoring bends in rivers, changing the way land is managed so soil can absorb more water and creating saltmarshes on the coast to absorb wave energy. Other examples include tree planting, fencing of watercourses to increase vegetation cover, creating temporary runoff storage areas, engineered log jams in watercourses. Measures aim to slow the flow of surface water and can affect the timing of a flood peak downstream.