Stroud District Council: Valleys natural flood management project
This project is working with residents, partners, and landowners to implement cutting edge nature-based solutions to reduce the risk of flooding within Stroud district. This will deliver particularly when conventional engineering approaches are not feasible or are unaffordable.
The technique used will restore more natural drainage processes throughout a whole catchment area, which in turn will slow and reduce peak flows in ‘rapid response’ catchments. Local contractors and suppliers are working with landowners to implement interventions using locally available materials like trees, soils, and wetland habitats to slow and disperse high flows across the catchment to reduce risk, restore nature and improve water quality.
The project was co-developed with local flood action groups who generated the project and helped recruit the officer delivering this project. Working within a framework of local priorities and knowledge is a key innovation which has contributed to the project’s success.
Another key innovation is the use of film and media to communicate the aims of the project and importantly, to allow affected residents to explain the impact of flooding on themselves. Officers are currently working with local artists and creative writers to expand awareness of the project to a wider range of residents.
Based on this success, Gloucestershire County Council is currently recruiting to roll out a similar project across the county area. The project has now received a total of 12 years funding up to 2027, covering the whole of the 250km2 catchment area of the River Frome. Additional funding was approved in 2021 from the Severn and Wye Regional Flood and Coastal Committee Local Levy to continue working with landowners and install further interventions.
This approach delivers not only climate adaptations, providing extra protection against flooding, whilst simultaneously supporting the wellbeing of local residents. By tackling the risk posed by flooding, local businesses and residents can benefit from the improvement to their health and wellbeing.
The project has also worked with small local businesses which received training to increase their capacity to deliver nature-based solutions and valuable experience applying this. This has now delivered over 800 nature-based interventions throughout the Frome catchment, working in collaboration with 25 local land managers and contractors to implement this project.
Other key benefits from the programme include:
- 25% of the catchment now draining through NFM
- 1m reduction in peak river levels (between the two most closely comparable recent heavy rainfall events) on the Slad Brook
- Over 1,000 people from local and national groups have come together to visit and learn more about the project
The success of the programme was recognised when the project was used as the exemplar project for nature-based solutions within the Governments new national Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy for England.
The council has recently entered a partnership with the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and the Environment Agency, to install £80k worth of hydrological monitoring equipment in the area. This will provide the council with a quantitative understanding of the benefits of the nature-based interventions in reducing floods and drought.