Natural flood protection scheme to 'slow the flow' in the north west

More than 1,000 properties across the north west will benefit from a pioneering natural flood protection scheme, which has received £1m of government funding, the floods minister, Therese Coffey, has announced. The Slow the Flow project will focus on upstream water retention to protect areas of Delph, Uppermill, Stalybridge and Mossley in Greater Manchester, and the Derbyshire Peak District towns of Hayfield, Glossop and Whaley Bridge.

Measures to slow the flow of water – from peat restoration to woodland planting and construction of 'leaky barriers' – will be built to hold back water upstream and reduce quantities of sediment being washed downstream, so helping to reduce the need for channel maintenance lower down. The project will be carried out by a wide range of partners, including the Irwell River Trust, United Utilities and Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

This scheme is one of 58 across England set to benefit from £15m of government funding for natural flood defences announced as part of a 'whole-catchment' approach in Defra's National Flood Resilience Review. 

"By restoring peat and planting woodlands, multiple slow-the flow schemes across the north west region will help protect families, homes and businesses from flooding, benefiting the wider environment and the people who live in those communities," Coffey said, announcing the latest plans.

The chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd, said: "Natural flood management is an important part of our approach, alongside traditional flood defences and helping homeowners to improve their own property resilience. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to flooding and this scheme is a fantastic example of how we can use a variety of measures that work together to reduce flood risk."

Two other slow the flow projects in the Pennines have each been awarded £50,000 funding from the natural flood management pot. One will reduce flood risk to nearly 300 homes in the Upper Dove catchment, while the other will benefit approximately 50 homes in the Upper Dean catchment.

The Environment Agency's senior flood risk adviser, David Brown, said: "In the Greater Manchester area, we are pleased with this funding allocation and are keen to work in partnership on projects that will benefit nature at the same time as reducing the risk of flooding.

"The more of these schemes we have, the more we can use our natural habitats to build-up flood resilience, so it really is a win-win situation. We are now looking forward to developing a programme of projects in the catchment to ‘slow the flow’ and reduce flood risk."