Shropshire escaped the worst of the wild weather – December was the wettest month on record for the UK – but local organisations are still working to prevent future flooding problems.
River catchment issues are now a core part of Shropshire Wildlife Trust's work and restoring wetlands within those catchments can play a significant role in slowing down the flow of water from land to rivers.
The trust works with landowners on schemes to restore peatland in lowland bogs, which absorb water like a sponge, and in many pools and ponds. Its rivers team plays a crucial role in the nationwide Slow the Flow movement, in a joint project with Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin councils funded by the Environment Agency.
Peter Lambert, river projects manager, said: "The Slow the Flow project pilot catchments have been chosen where flooding directly impacts people and the economy. Natural solutions can be very effective at reducing flood risk and great for wildlife."
Taking a whole catchment approach looks at the causes of flooding and a wide range of measures to solve it are explored, including targeted de-silting, property level protection and creating new wetlands. The trust's first project has focused on the Battlefield roundabout in Shrewsbury, which is notorious for flooding that causes road closures and serious problems for businesses.
Measures being undertaken to reduce the flow of water into this urban basin include the promotion of rainwater harvesting on buildings, tree and hedge planting, and the excavation of a long swale, which soaks up surface water as it flows off the road.
Another simple measure involves placing pieces of timber across the stream to prevent the water gushing down so fast. A new wetland is also to be created in an adjoining field, helping to soak up more water. In all, 10 hectares of new wetlands will be created through Slow the Flow in Shropshire.