As of August 2016, things have advanced considerably.  The Pickering flood defences (known as Slowing the Flow) were finally completed in Sep 2015 and first tested in anger during the Boxing Day floods of 2015, which devastated huge areas of Northern England.  While others flooded, Pickering was protected by a combination of Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures in the upper catchment and a large engineered bund above the town.  In reality, the rainfall was considerably less than in other areas, but the defences still avoided worse flooding in the town.  Overall, the scheme only protects the town from up to a 1:25 year event, because that was all the protection we could afford with available funding.  However, this event provided proof that the whole concept of NFM and upstream storage can work effectively at relatively low cost and can feasibly be replicated in catchments all over the country.

 Similar work is now in progress by a number of other communities across N England.  For further details or enquiries, contact Mike Potter on 01751 477113


2014 Aug flood scheme update

Update on progress with the Slowing the Flow (STF) scheme, November 2010

22 Woody Debris Dams (WDD) installed Jul 2010 by Forestry Commission (FC) apprentices in Cropton Forest, Pickering catchment. Further WDD being installed from 1 Nov. Target of 100 dams in Pickering Beck (PB) catchment and 50 in R Seven (Sinnington) catchment expected to be met by March 2011. Likelihood of these figures being exceeded. This sort of flood alleviation/land management practice has now been included as part of routine FC working practise, which should mean ongoing WDD building and maintenance as a matter of course.  See WDD phots here.

Three potential sites identified for WDD in the main PB and it is hoped that at least some can be established, as main beck sites have far greater storage potential. However, they are much more problematic due to the NYMR, SSSI etc, so the potential is limited in PB.

North York Moors National Park (NP) have identified areas for riparian woodland planting, subject to some agreements over SSSIs. 7 hectares should be planted during the winter, plus 1650 native Oaks at Levisham Griffs. They will also be carrying out heather restoration work in the Hole of Horcum and moorland drain blocking on the Levisham Estate during the winter (preventing peat erosion and sediment transportation). They also have EA consent to create WDD in this area, again subject to SSSI status. Issues with construction as the necessary timber is not readily available as it is on FC land.

David Rees of Natural England is doing some excellent work with farmers and landowners to prevent or reduce runoff into rivers through buffer strips etc. There seems to be a much greater all-round awareness that sedimentation needs to be addressed at source.

Planning permission for the bunds has been submitted, with NYCC and NP being involved as the area comes under the remit of both. I'm assured this is being dealt with with appropriate urgency. Work is expected to commence April 2011, but it is hoped that much of the clay for construction can be moved through the winter, when traffic disruption will be at a minimum.

Still early days, but my request that Nick Odoni's idea of mini bunds (as an adjunct to WDD) can be properly evaluated has not been discounted. We see this as having particularly good potential for the R Seven catchment. Additional funding needed - couple of irons in the fire.

I am hearing a lot of positive noises regarding all these measures, rather than the more cautious scepticism of early 2010, when reasons for NOT trying these methods were often being voiced. I suspect the main reason is momentum created by the successful funding bid from RDC for bunds and subsequent interest at high level in all agencies from the potential kudos. Also the small matter of pressure being applied via Anne Mclntosh MP.
In addition to the STF scheme, the Vale of Pickering channel management study has been a great success. Hydrologist to the IDBs, Chris Bowles, has a great gift for communication and diplomacy, so consequently there is some excellent dialogue and cooperation between IDBs and EA, based on sound scientific evidence about river maintenance (both sediment and vegetation). The EA are slowly changing their tune about sensibly targeted maintenance. This is a vital part of any flood alleviation project - hard won improvements upstream will be wasted if water cannot move effectively down the river system.
The first anniversary of flooding at Cockermouth and the Cornish deluge have raised the profile of flooding with the media. You may have seen items on BBC TV news and The Politics Show regarding this scheme and its benefits. We are definitely making progress in highlighting these methods as being sensible and cost-effective for many locations nationally.

This site gives various updates and information about the Slowing the Flow in Pickering scheme, along with minutes of meetings, contact details etc.

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