High Water Common Ground has been proudly produced with official support from

Environment Agency
National Flood Forum
SEPA - Scottish Environment Protection Agency
WWT - Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
Cyfoeth Natural Cymru - Natural Resources Wales
Woodland Trust
The Wildlife Trusts
The Flow Partnership
Scottish Government - Riaghaltas na h-Alba
BASC - British Association of Shooting and Conservation
ARUP

Synopsis

Extreme flooding events in recent years have devastated countless communities throughout the UK, and it is only a matter of time before such destructive waters are seen again. Beyond the immediate, obvious loss of livelihood and business, the impacts of these floods have permeated much deeper, affecting communities both physically and psychologically, and affecting the relationships between the people most affected and those charged with alleviating the damage.

But from amidst this chaos, communities have pulled together more strongly than ever, and opportunity has emerged to find new and innovative solutions to the threat of flooding. These are solutions that have the potential to satisfy every stakeholder, and benefit land and water on every level. Such ‘natural’ flood risk managemetn techniques are in no way a universal or absolute solution, but their potential for significant contribution to flood pressure alleviation is widely accepted.

In a documentary-meets-toolkit, High Water Common Ground meets the communities most affected by flooding, examines the needs of the parties involved, and explores some of the most innovative methods of flood risk management using real examples from around the country.

“Essential Viewing”

"Climate change is here. I often talk about how our thinking in flood risk management has to change faster than the climate – and embracing natural approaches is a key part of that change. One of the major challenges in making community led NFM projects successful is people knowing what the art of the possible is – this can all seem very daunting at the start of any project. High Water Common Ground has been one of the most successful tools we have in showing just what is possible and inspiring action. It should be essential viewing for anyone associated with flood risk management"

John Curtin, Environment Agency

High Water Common Ground
2018-06-26T20:49:08+00:00

John Curtin, Environment Agency

"Climate change is here. I often talk about how our thinking in flood risk management has to change faster than the climate – and embracing natural approaches is a key part of that change. One of the major challenges in making community led NFM projects successful is people knowing what the art of the possible is – this can all seem very daunting at the start of any project. High Water Common Ground has been one of the most successful tools we have in showing just what is possible and inspiring action. It should be essential viewing for anyone associated with flood risk management"

“Important”

"In my view [HWCG] is important as it illustrates the various ways in which groups of concerned residents of flood prone areas have come together to decide on and then implement small scale, affordable measures to assist in protecting their properties and those of their neighbours downstream. It is a world away from massive concrete dams and the like and shows how the application of common sense with a little professional guidance can make a measurable improvement in flood resilience. Even if this amount is only in the order of 10%, it can make the difference between a property flooding or not."

Geoff Neden, Diddlebury Flood Action Group

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-16T08:27:19+00:00

Geoff Neden, Diddlebury Flood Action Group

"In my view [HWCG] is important as it illustrates the various ways in which groups of concerned residents of flood prone areas have come together to decide on and then implement small scale, affordable measures to assist in protecting their properties and those of their neighbours downstream. It is a world away from massive concrete dams and the like and shows how the application of common sense with a little professional guidance can make a measurable improvement in flood resilience. Even if this amount is only in the order of 10%, it can make the difference between a property flooding or not."

“…an extremely well-conceived and executed film…”

"High Water Common Ground is an extremely well-concieved and executed film, which succeeds admirably in its twin aims of being both a very engaging documentary about the issues around climate change, flooding and Natural Flood Management, and also a tool kit for both professionals and community groups wanting to plant trees and/or introduce natural flood measures."

Tom Bliss, Leeds Beckett and UBoC

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-11T12:52:23+00:00

Tom Bliss, Leeds Beckett and UBoC

"High Water Common Ground is an extremely well-concieved and executed film, which succeeds admirably in its twin aims of being both a very engaging documentary about the issues around climate change, flooding and Natural Flood Management, and also a tool kit for both professionals and community groups wanting to plant trees and/or introduce natural flood measures."

“… a powerful message…”

"The film [HWCG] and the debate it prompted was excellent. There is a powerful message that comes through about communities coming together to understand and try and address their own problems and such an approach is needed more than ever for a myriad of environmental and social issues. I came away from the launch feeling that we really have turned a corner in terms of how we view flooding. Finally, people are making the links between what happens on the land and what happens to our rivers and are working with rather than against nature."

Stewart Clarke, The National Trust

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-16T08:22:15+00:00

Stewart Clarke, The National Trust

"The film [HWCG] and the debate it prompted was excellent. There is a powerful message that comes through about communities coming together to understand and try and address their own problems and such an approach is needed more than ever for a myriad of environmental and social issues. I came away from the launch feeling that we really have turned a corner in terms of how we view flooding. Finally, people are making the links between what happens on the land and what happens to our rivers and are working with rather than against nature."

“…the best film you could watch to understand [NFM]…”

"We cannot afford to build flood walls to protect everyone at risk, so do we leave them to flood or look for affordable alternatives? Natural Flood Management (NFM) is simple, affordable and works WITH nature to Slow the Flow.  Andy Clark's outstanding commitment to the natural world enlisted the support of some of the country's foremost experts in NFM to explain in an understandable way how and why it works.  High Water Common Ground is quite simply the best film you can watch to understand the alternative to concrete walls."

Mike Potter, Pickering & District Civic Society

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-11T13:25:40+00:00

Mike Potter, Pickering & District Civic Society

"We cannot afford to build flood walls to protect everyone at risk, so do we leave them to flood or look for affordable alternatives? Natural Flood Management (NFM) is simple, affordable and works WITH nature to Slow the Flow.  Andy Clark's outstanding commitment to the natural world enlisted the support of some of the country's foremost experts in NFM to explain in an understandable way how and why it works.  High Water Common Ground is quite simply the best film you can watch to understand the alternative to concrete walls."

“Thank You”

"I would just like to thank you [Andy] for making the film which highlights how hard people work in the community to combat the stress of flooding and potential flooding. It draws attention to the fact that groups have to overcome many obstacles to achieve success which can take many years to come to fruition. It should be shown to all government agencies so that the funding needed can be made available and that attitudes towards community groups and practices must change to allow the groups to succeed."

Sue Butler, Brompton Flood Prevention Group

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-11T12:53:01+00:00

Sue Butler, Brompton Flood Prevention Group

"I would just like to thank you [Andy] for making the film which highlights how hard people work in the community to combat the stress of flooding and potential flooding. It draws attention to the fact that groups have to overcome many obstacles to achieve success which can take many years to come to fruition. It should be shown to all government agencies so that the funding needed can be made available and that attitudes towards community groups and practices must change to allow the groups to succeed."

“…an excellent tool…worth watching…”

“The film is an excellent tool to engage flood risk communities and generate discussion and learning about all the issues that are involved with flooding. In Scotland, we have shown the film at our community networking event and the feedback was very positive and this has led to local communities leading on actions to raise awareness and engage with responsible authorities to reduce flood risk.

The film is worth watching because although it focuses on natural flood management, it does not present this as a panacea to flooding but it does place ordinary people in flood risk communities at the heart of the process and the possible solutions.”

Paul Laidlaw, Scottish Flood Forum

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-11T13:25:02+00:00

Paul Laidlaw, Scottish Flood Forum

“The film is an excellent tool to engage flood risk communities and generate discussion and learning about all the issues that are involved with flooding. In Scotland, we have shown the film at our community networking event and the feedback was very positive and this has led to local communities leading on actions to raise awareness and engage with responsible authorities to reduce flood risk. The film is worth watching because although it focuses on natural flood management, it does not present this as a panacea to flooding but it does place ordinary people in flood risk communities at the heart of the process and the possible solutions.”

“… an excellent guide…”

“At Slow The Flow Calderdale, we have been involved with Andy Clark and his excellent film company ‘Top Of The Tree’ for a couple of years.  Andy is a terrific film maker and his attention to detail is excellent in explaining how Natural Flood Management can alleviate flood risk.  


He is very artistic and imaginative in his production and his film ‘High Water Common Ground’ is testament to the skills he possesses using this medium.  More people need to see High Water Common Ground which is an excellent guide as to how NFM can help communities at risk of flooding.”

Adrian Horton, Slow The Flow Calderdale

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-11T13:27:50+00:00

Adrian Horton, Slow The Flow Calderdale

“At Slow The Flow Calderdale, we have been involved with Andy Clark and his excellent film company ‘Top Of The Tree’ for a couple of years.  Andy is a terrific film maker and his attention to detail is excellent in explaining how Natural Flood Management can alleviate flood risk.   He is very artistic and imaginative in his production and his film ‘High Water Common Ground’ is testament to the skills he possesses using this medium.  More people need to see High Water Common Ground which is an excellent guide as to how NFM can help communities at risk of flooding.”

“…a breath of fresh air and a wake up call…”

"HWCG has turned out brilliantly and should be essential viewing for anyone with any interest in flooding, flood risk, flood alleviation and how communities can act to make a difference. The latter is particularly apposite because whilst there is a lot of talk now about natural flood management techniques (NFM) and an increasing body of evidence to support it's effectiveness there is still much institutional reluctance to really take it 'on board'  and the severe lack of funding (only £15m to date) and lack of organisational, internal systems and procedural change within Defra to accomodate it reflects this.
So [HWCG] is a welcome breath of fresh air and a wake up call to arms in a sea of uncertainty."

Phil Wragg, Shipston Flood Action Group

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-16T08:16:55+00:00

Phil Wragg, Shipston Flood Action Group

"HWCG has turned out brilliantly and should be essential viewing for anyone with any interest in flooding, flood risk, flood alleviation and how communities can act to make a difference. The latter is particularly apposite because whilst there is a lot of talk now about natural flood management techniques (NFM) and an increasing body of evidence to support it's effectiveness there is still much institutional reluctance to really take it 'on board'  and the severe lack of funding (only £15m to date) and lack of organisational, internal systems and procedural change within Defra to accomodate it reflects this. So [HWCG] is a welcome breath of fresh air and a wake up call to arms in a sea of uncertainty."

“This film is a must…”

“This film is a must for any group or individual that lives near water to watch and that means the majority of the population. It very clearly explains the cause of flooding and puts to bed some of the public misconceptions as well as showing examples of community led solutions to improve their flood resilience using well thought out natural solutions rather than always relying on walls of concrete.”

Mark Owen, Angling Trust

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-11T13:26:13+00:00

Mark Owen, Angling Trust

“This film is a must for any group or individual that lives near water to watch and that means the majority of the population. It very clearly explains the cause of flooding and puts to bed some of the public misconceptions as well as showing examples of community led solutions to improve their flood resilience using well thought out natural solutions rather than always relying on walls of concrete.”

“Organise a viewing…”

"...Leeds Beckett University Landscape Architecture department (where I teach) and the University of Leeds research charity United Bank of Carbon (where I am Business Development Co-ordinator) recently arranged a joint showing of the film, followed by a panel debate featuring professors from both institutions and experts from Arup, Environment Agency and the flood modellers Thomas Mackay. The film proved to be a great attractor, and the event was was quickly sold out. The audience included students and staff from all the above organisations, plus many others - including community groups concerned with flooding and/or green infrastructure. Opinion in the room about the film was very positive: It laid out the issues clearly in a positive, even inspirational, fashion, allowing the debate to begin at a high level and develop quickly into areas of interest. I would urge anyone interested in natural capital, green infrastructure, trees, flooding, climate change or community action to watch the film - and, ideally, organise a viewing with a similar debate to follow."

Tom Bliss, Leeds Beckett and UBoC

High Water Common Ground
2018-05-11T12:51:31+00:00

Tom Bliss, Leeds Beckett and UBoC

"...Leeds Beckett University Landscape Architecture department (where I teach) and the University of Leeds research charity United Bank of Carbon (where I am Business Development Co-ordinator) recently arranged a joint showing of the film, followed by a panel debate featuring professors from both institutions and experts from Arup, Environment Agency and the flood modellers Thomas Mackay. The film proved to be a great attractor, and the event was was quickly sold out. The audience included students and staff from all the above organisations, plus many others - including community groups concerned with flooding and/or green infrastructure. Opinion in the room about the film was very positive: It laid out the issues clearly in a positive, even inspirational, fashion, allowing the debate to begin at a high level and develop quickly into areas of interest. I would urge anyone interested in natural capital, green infrastructure, trees, flooding, climate change or community action to watch the film - and, ideally, organise a viewing with a similar debate to follow."

About the production team

Producer Andy Clark is an MSc graduate of Ecology and Environmental Management, and passionate communicator of science. Andy is an experienced voice artist, presenter and filmmaker aka. The Top Of The Tree, and will be providing the objective voice-over narration for this film in order to properly tell the stories of the parties involved, and drive home the core messages of community understanding, and the values of working in partnership. This project is being designed and produced with every stakeholder in mind, to present and fulfil the needs of every involved trust and agency who manages the land and waterways, and of every town and community who feel the threat of flooding on their doorstep. Through this film, Andy wishes to present an opportunity to increase understanding between parties who have, in the past, experienced contention, to ease communications, and to present a national attitude of community, support, and best effort.

Headshotb&w

First Camera Ben Sadd is an award-winning photographer aka. The Trail To Anywhere, whose skills have received international recognition. His extraordinary adventures and stunning ability behind the lens hold him in great acclaim.

Sound Recordist and Composer Peter Baumann is an exceptionally talented young composer and sound designer, whose dissertation piece The Evolution of Madagascar, received the first 100% ever awarded from the University of York dept of Music.

Contributors and Case Studies

Pont Bren – Collaboration of Farmers

When a group of farmers banded together to manage their land more sustainably, they had no idea of the impacts on flood risk management their project would have.

Calder Valley – Dongria Kond

Severely hit by recent floods, the Calder Valley is currently bursting with energy to tackle the threat of future floods. Dongria describes local efforts and the strategic use of trees as flood defences.

Dongria Kond, Treesponsibility Yorkshire
Pickering – Mike Potter

In 2014, Pickering became one of three DEFRA pilot projects in upstream management and ‘slowing-the-flow’. Mike tells us how impactful it has been in just that time.

Mike Potter, of Pickering Civic Society
Eddlestone Water – Prof Chris Spray

An ongoing trail of natural flood management looks promising for collecting the much called-for evidence needed to predict and quantify it’s impact.

Chris Spray Scottish Government SEPA
Shropshire Slowing The Flow – Jayne Disley and Geoff Neden

Small-scale ‘NFM’ schems can be implemented in very rural locations, but have strong cumulative effects downstream – as utilised between the villages of Diddlebury and Culmington.

Brompton – Sue Butler

After discussions with major stakeholders, the Brompton Flood Action Group are working with a local farmer to install a series of leaky dams into their catchment.

Shipston – Phil Wragg

Effective flood risk managemen schemes can serve many purposes, and establishing an ambitious multi-agency partnership may just be the way to achieve them all.

Stroud – Chris Uttley

After exhaustive flooding, The Stroud District Council and residents realised that their best option of defence was to create some innovative natural flood management.

Chris Uttley, Rural SuDS Officer, Stroud
Atkinson Farm – Rob Atkinson

As a Countryside Stewardship farmer, Rob has an admirably holistic approach to farming, believing that we all have a part to play in looking out for each other and the environment.

Belford – Dr Alex Nicholson

From his work as a PhD student on the upland management work at Belford, Alex describes the various ways that the impact of projects can be measured.

Dykehead – Dr Paul Quinn

After the success of his work at Belford, Paul is now addressing the issue of ‘scaling-up’ natural flood risk management throughout larger areas.

North Pennines AONB – Emma Taylor

Up in the moorlands of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, peatland restoration is blocking ‘grips’ and rejuvenating this great natural resource.

Peak District – Chris Dean

Atmospheric pollution has acidified and grossly degraded the peat moorland of the Peak District. Thanks to innovative techniques in Sphagnum regeneration, Chris and his peers are bringing life back to the peat.

Hill Farm – Tim Dunn

Tim describes the life of a hill farmer and his flock, commenting on the landscape that is supported by his work, and noting that grip blocking has had a surprisingly beneficial impact on his farming.

Bransdale Moor – Paul Wilson

As head keeper, Paul describes the way in which moorland can be managed for a variety of benefits. In order to address issues such as this, we must understand and apprecie all stakeholder’s needs.

Paul Wilson, Game Keeper
Suburban London – SuDS For Schools

Natural Flood Management is not strictly a rural approach, as the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and students of two London schools are proudly demonstrating with their integrated approaches.

Wheldrake Ings – National Nature Reserve

This iconic and ancient flood plain has proven a great success in combining flow-managing flood resilience with a multitude of harmonious environmental benefits.

Further Contributors To Knowledge

Duncan Huggett, Environment Agency

Jeff Pacey, Environment Agency

Rob Cathcart, Natural England

Alistair Maltby, The Rivers Trust

Dianne Millis, The Woodland Trust

Prof Alastair Driver, Catchment Restoration Specialist

Amanda Anderson, Moorland Association

Ben Connor, British Ecological Society

Bob Vaughan, Natural Resources Wales

Becky Willis, Independent Researcher

Andrew Herbert, Lake District National Parks Authority

Nick Hulme, United Utilities

Alastair Chisholm, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

Mark Simpson, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Andy Graham, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Jeremy Biggs, Freshwater Habitats Trust

Dr Alex Nicholson, Arup

Peter Smith, West Sussex County Council

Martin Rogers, National Farmers Union

Dongria Kond, Treesponsibility

Mike Potter, Pickering Civic Society

Geoff Neden, Diddlebury Flood Action Group

Rob Atkinson, Atkinson Farms

Gareth Dockerty, British Association of Shooting and Conservation

Heather Shepherd, National Flood Forum

Stewart Prodger, SEPA

Debi Garft, Scottish Government

Mark Wilkinson, James Hutton Institute

Ian Creighton, Cumbria Rivers Trust

Prof Mike Acreman, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Chris Uttley, Stroud District Council

Prof Chris Spray, University of Dundee

Dr Nick Odoni, Durham University

Gareth Davies, Coed Cymru

Dr Tim Pagella, Bangor University

Dr Martin Evans, Manchester University

Jason Reeves, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

Chris Dean, Moors For The Future

David Mount, Upland Hydrology Group

Brenda Pollack, Rewilding Britain

Graham Chaplin-Brice, Cumbria Farm Owner

William Chaplin-Brice, Cumbria Farmer

Lynne Jones, Keswick Flood Action Group

Sue Butler, Brompton Flood Prevention Group

Tim Dunn, Hill Farmer North York Moors

Paul Wilson, Head Keeper North York Moors

Mark Owen, The Angling Trust

Craig Ralston, Natural England

High Water on Kickstarter

In March 2017, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to help support the finalisation of High Water Common Ground, and kick-off www.highwaterfilm.co.uk

Nearly 50 backers rallied behind the cause, and together helped raise a total of over £5,000 to bring High Water to culmination.

Producer Andy Clark would like to personally thank each and every one who supported this campaign:

A film from The Top Of The Tree