Natural flood management in the media

This week has seen the 12th anniversary of the 2007 floods which impacted across swathes of the UK and affected villages, towns and cities across Yorkshire. It is timely to look at some of the measures put in place since then to alleviate flooding in the future. Natural flood management (NFM) has had some coverage in the media recently with both the BBC and ITV reporting stories that cover activities iCASP projects are supporting.

Countryfile recently visited Hardcastle Crags near to Hebden Bridge to find out more about leaky dams and how they will help tackle flooding in the future. The NFM work in Hardcastle is as a direct result of the 2015 Boxing Day floods. iCASP has been working with the Environment Agency, JBA and the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, amongst others, on monitoring and measuring the range of benefits of NFM measures such as the leaky dams seen in the programme. The main focus of iCASP’s work has been developing approaches to measure whether or not the dams work to deliver flood alleviation. A future focus of the work will be to help quantify the additional benefits of these types of interventions – such as more varied habitat for wildlife, improved water quality and enhanced well-being for visitors to the area – which will be vital for making the business case for future natural flood management measures.  Find out more about the Hardcastle Crags leaky dams from Countryfile

Images of leaky dams and volunteers by Slow The Flow Calderdale

Natural flood management encompasses a range of different measures, not just leaky dams. An ITV news report on tree planting in Hebden Bridge mentioned how this work will draw upon the expertise of iCASP later in the year to understand the impact of trees already planted. iCASP will be working on the project to help identify how features, such as trees and hedges, can absorb heavy rainfall and contribute to alleviating flooding, as well as investigating how different soil types and land covers also contribute to flooding. Decisions on where trees and hedges should be planted in the future, for optimal benefit, will be informed by a rainfall-runoff model developed at the University of Leeds.  Read the ITV report

These NFM activities rely upon a range of different partners getting involved. A diagram showing the range of different partner organisations, drawing from the voluntary, charitable, private, public and regulatory sectors, has been developed to give a flavour of the interactions in these activities in the Calderdale area.  View the interactive diagram

Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee

This week, Alison Dunn who leads the Invasive Non Native Species project gave evidence at the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into Invasive Species. iCASP had previously submitted written evidence to the inquiry and Alison was invited to attend the first evidence session where the Committee began to get an understanding of the issues that will shape the inquiry.

L-R: Mary Creagh MP (Chair of the EAC) with some of the witnesses from the enquiry, Professor Helen Roy (NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), Dr Alison Dunn (iCASP, University of Leeds) and Professor Elizabeth Cottier-Cook (University of the Highlands and Islands and Scottish Association for Marine Science)

Some points that Alison made during her session include:

  • economically important impacts of invasive species on, for example, on the building trade and water companies
  • the importance of biosecurity to stop initial invasions, spread, or re-infestation
  • the unprecedented rate at which new species are being introduced
  • the reliance, in some cases, of biosecurity on voluntary agreements rather than legislation
  • the shift in climate that may affect whether an invasive species becomes problematic or not

Alison’s session can be seen on Parliament TV (begins at 11:36:00)

There is also a transcript of the session available

 

Making the case for peatland restoration

A new digital publication to help peatland restoration projects make a strong case for investment has been produced by the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP).

A ‘User Guide for Valuing the Benefits of Peatland Restoration’ explains very simply how different methods can be used to evaluate benefits such as flood risk reduction, carbon storage, water quality improvements and recreational amenity.

Read moreMaking the case for peatland restoration

Let’s talk nitrogen pollution

Photo credit: Andrew Walker, Yorkshire Water

An iCASP workshop aims to kick start an integrated catchment approach to reducing nitrogen pollution from farming. But as most excess nitrogen comes from agricultural activities, improvements will only happen if enough farmers get on board, so a quick  Have Your say questionnaire is available for farmers to influence the workshop even if they can’t come along. (Please feel free to forward this item if you know a farmer willing to share their experience)

High volumes of nitrogen in the water or in the air are harmful to human health, but most efforts to reduce them focus on a single impact or activity such as slurry spreading. An iCASP project, if designed well with input from farmers, researchers, Defra teams and regulators, could bring about a new approach with benefits for farm businesses and the environment.

An agenda and directions to the venue can be downloaded from the links below.

Nitrogen Workshop Final Agenda

Kings Manor Info

 

Read moreLet’s talk nitrogen pollution

Dealing with freshwater invaders

Workshop to design invasive species project

Hard pressed local authorities in Yorkshire are to get some support from iCASP  in dealing with the spread of watery invaders such as Giant Hogweed, a plant that causes long-term skin burning.

Last year’s costs for removing Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed from the Rivers Aire and Don was over a hundred thousand pounds. Although Yorkshire is currently largely free of Floating Pennywort, which clogs up waterways, costs of large infestations are huge. Once widespread it becomes almost impossible to eradicate this invasive species, resulting in spiralling annual costs of treatment. A new iCASP project will therefore help authorities to act now to prevent any spread.

Read moreDealing with freshwater invaders

Paying farmers for natural flood management

Photocredit: Andrew Walker, Yorkshire Water

A group of farmers are at the heart of an iCASP project which will be supporting the trial of a new national scheme for paying land managers to deliver benefits such as healthy soil or an increase in bees and other pollinators. The National Trust and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are running a ‘Payment for Outcomes’ trial with a group of  tenant farmers in the Yorkshire Dales which will help to test the feasibility of Defra’s new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS).

Read morePaying farmers for natural flood management

Weather Show

Following his presentation at the launch of the UK Climate Projections (UKCP18) in November, iCASP’s Ben Rabb, was interviewed on Radio Leeds for the regional Paul Hudson Weather Show.

Ben was able to explain how different types of flooding: coastal, fluvial (from rivers) and surface water caused by heavy rainfall are more likely to strike low lying areas such as Hull.

He also touched on the current drought that Yorkshire Water has declared and reminded residents of York and Leeds of all the flood alleviation work that is aiming to protect homes and businesses.

You can hear Ben on the online BBC Weather Show catch-up page at 31′ 27″ into the show.

Defining a Future for Yorkshire Farming

The iCASP Public Goods Project has produced some resources which will be showcased at the Defining a Future for Yorkshire Farming today (Nov 15th 2018).

The one day conference hosted by the Yorkshire Food farming and Rural Network is expecting Secretary of State, Michael Gove, to attend as keynote speaker.

The National Farmers’ Union, one of iCASP’s partners, have been taking a keen interest in the publications which are based on a rapid review of the academic evidence for agricultural land management options linked to improving soil health.

Healthy soil can help to mitigate flood risk, increase crop productivity and store more carbon. These benefits are becoming known as public goods and their delivery is key to the new Environmental Land Management Scheme which Defra is developing.

The evidence that iCASP reviewed found that conservation tillage, the addition of organic amendments, introduction of grass-clover leys into arable rotations, and conversion of arable land to woodland can all enhance soil health. If you want to find out more, the publications are available on the iCASP Public Goods Resources page.

 

 

Turning Yorkshire Green Blue

Green walls and water feature to enhance property value

A new iCASP partnership is forming to dissolve the barriers which prevent investment in natural landscaping in urban areas. Natural landscape features such as ponds, rows of trees, roofs or walls planted with greenery are just a few common examples of what is described as Green Blue Infrastructure (GBI).

In spite of its benefits, which include natural cooling, improving air quality, providing wildlife habitats and making urban areas more attractive, planners struggle to make a persuasive business case for GBI investment.

Now a strong multi-disciplinary team in partnership with stakeholders in Leeds City region and West Yorkshire are determined to lead the way in improving cost-benefit analysis and valuation of Green Blue Infrastructure. They want to bring HM Treasury on board too!

Read moreTurning Yorkshire Green Blue

Prioritising Natural Flood Management interventions in Calderdale

Photo Courtesy: Slow the Flow

A rainfall-runoff model developed at the University of Leeds is the latest weapon in Calderdale’s efforts to prevent future flooding in the valley. SD-TOPMODEL is currently the only tool able to model the flow of water from hillslopes to the river at a sufficient spatial scale to allow Natural Flood Management (NFM) interventions and land management to be represented accurately for the characteristics of the Calderdale catchment.

An iCASP project using SD-TOPMODEL and starting in November 2018 will contribute to the Calderdale Flood Action Plan by helping to prioritise the siting of future NFM schemes.

Read morePrioritising Natural Flood Management interventions in Calderdale

RT @CIWEM: We are pleased to announce the Journal of Flood Risk Management will be an #open access journal from January 2020… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

RT @YorkDalesRT: Do you spend a lot of time around rivers or out & about in the countryside? Come see us at Scarcroft Village Hall n… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

@ilkleyIain This was Nethergill Farm in Oughtershaw I believe