Saturday, 9 August 2014

Mitigating the effect of floods

By restoring part of a local river and its environs to something like their natural state, Maidstone Council avoided the worst effects of the heavy rain which hit Kent in 2013/14. This was in contrast to the flooding of property which had occurred in Maidstone town centre in similar weather conditions in 2000.

The deputy leader of Maidstone's Liberal Democrat group writes:

This time the re-naturalised banks of the River Len behaved very differently and instead of flood water (and debris) sheeting-off acres of hard standing, the River Len corridor, and its damp woodland and reed beds, dramatically slowed flows and held-back huge volumes of flood water and debris.

Remarkably, no properties were directly flooded in Maidstone town centre as a result of inundation by the River Len. Indeed, storm water was even pumped from the nearby, at risk, Loose Stream catchment into the River Len – and still no serious property flooding resulted

Tony Harwood goes on to draw the general conclusion:

Just imagine the damage and misery that could be averted were more of the UK’s riverside ‘flood-woodlands’ restored. Overly simplistic calls for increased de-silting and dredging of our watercourses in locations where at best it will make no difference to flood risk and at worst will exacerbate downstream flooding must be resisted.

It seems to me that DEFRA, in respect of the Somerset Levels, followed the second course but without doing anything about the first.

Locally, we have seen the effects which hardening previous natural "sinks" have on lower-lying properties. One hopes that Neath Port Talbot planners will resist such unsuitable developments in future, and that they will be backed by the Welsh government.

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