Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, today joined Kirsty Hardy and the Environment Agency with Weardale farmer Greg Dalton to hear about the natural features that have been built as part of the £2.1 million government-funded Weardale Natural Flood Management scheme. You can read about it in the Northern Echo.
The scheme includes a series of nature based solutions such as storage areas, wooden leaky barriers and timber fences, to reduce flood risk across 41km2 to communities including Lanehead, Wearhead, Westgate and Stanhope. It has also seen 150 hectares of peatland restored and will aim to create up to 75 hectares of woodland to help grow wildlife.
The project is led by the Environment Agency working in partnership with Natural England, North Pennines AONB Partnership, the Forestry Commission and Durham County Council with representation from the Wear Catchment Partnership, alongside local farmers and landowners.
Richard Holden visited the site to find out more about the project and how the Environment Agency with its standard models, works with local landowners such as Mr Dalton to create a scheme that both works for the land but that can also be replicated and adapted across the country if successful. Mr Holden, following his time with the Dry Stone Walling Association, was particularly pleased to hear the projects include building drystone walls to make sure the flood defences sit with the landscape and do not impose on the more rural towns and village.
Commenting, Richard Holden MP said:
"The better our flood management systems, the better we can protect our towns and villages across the Weardale from life-changing harm.
"I was really pleased to come out today on the beautiful North Pennines to hear from local farmer Greg Dalton and Kirsty and her colleagues from the Environment Agency team. When it comes to natural flood management it seems to me best to work with the landowner from the start. It was great to see that Greg’s ideas were taken on and implemented by Kirsty and the Agency.
"From what I have seen today, natural flood management could change the way we manage floods and how the Environment Agency work with landowners to understand what works best on their land and for the local towns and villages."
Kirsty Hardy, the Environment Agency Project Manager, said:
“Our innovative approach, which has included flood risk modelling and working with communities to understand the flood history and landscape, has helped us identify the locations that provide the greatest benefit to reduce flood risk.
“Landowners and farmers and their skills and local knowledge are integral to the project’s ongoing success and our commitment to all working together has ensured our vision is coming to life.
"Not only is this protecting local communities, it’s bringing so many positive benefits for climate regulation, wildlife, water quality, water resources and amenity.”
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