“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
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 management 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.
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 their project would have on flood risk management.
Calder Valley - Dongria Kond
Severely hit by the 2015/16 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.
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's been in just that time.
Eddlestone Water - Prof Chris Spray
An ongoing trial of natural flood management looks promising for collecting the much called-for evidence needed to predict and quantify it's impact.
Shropshire Slowing The Flow -
Jayne Disley and Geoff Neden
Small-scale 'NFM' schemes 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 Prevention Group are working with a local farmer to install a series of leaky dams into their catchment.
Shipston - Phil Wragg
Effective flood risk management 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.
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 appreciate all stakeholder's needs.
SuDS For Schools - Susi Earnshaw
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 floodplain has proven a great success in combining flow-managing flood resilience with a multitude of harmonious environmental benefits.
Contributors to Knowledge
The Rivers Trust
The Woodland Trust
Prof Alastair Driver
Catchment restoration Specialist
British Ecological Society
Natural Resources Wales
Lake District National Parks Authority
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
Freshwater Habitats Trust
Dr Alex Nicholson
West Sussex County council
National Farmers Union
Pickering Civic Society
Diddlebury Flood Action Group
National Flood Forum
James Hutton Institute
Cumbria Rivers Trust
Prof Mike Acreman
Stroud District Council
Prof Chris Spray
University of Dundee
Dr Nick Odoni
Dr Tim Pagella
Dr Martin Evans
Moors For The Future
Upland Hydrology Group
Cumbria Farm Owner
Keswick Flood Action Group
Brompton Flood Prevention group
Hillfarmer, North York Moors
Head Keeper, Bransdale Moor
The Angling Trust