£4.5 million scheme to reduce River Severn flooding in Shropshire

"Natural" flood management techniques are to be used in an effort to reduce the potential for River Severn flooding hitting Shropshire properties, it has been revealed.

River Severn flooding in Ironbridge in January 2021
River Severn flooding in Ironbridge in January 2021

The flooding minister Rebecca Pow, has confirmed a series of funding packages aimed at tackling flooding along the route of the River Severn.

Shrewsbury and Ironbridge have both suffered major flooding on several occasions in the past two years.

In January this year residents and business owners in Coleham in Shrewsbury were left devastated when their properties were again submerged following heavy rain, while some residents in villages such as Melverley were completely cut off and Bridgnorth was also badly affected.

The Environment Agency (EA) is working on a long-term 'Severn Valley Water Management Scheme', which is intended to reduce the flood risk along the entirety of the Severn Valley.

One of the key aspects of the work is 'slowing the flow' of water upstream of Shrewsbury.

Details have now emerged of what form some of those measures may take with the Government confirming major £6.2 million permanent defence at Bewdley, as well as £4.5m for 'smaller projects' in the Severn valley, and suggestions about work on the Severn before it reaches Shrewsbury.

The EA says it plans on using natural flood management techniques such as floodplain reconnection, wetland creation, woody debris dams and woodland planting to ‘slow the flow’ of water upstream of Shrewsbury.

The organisation says that it needs to store in excess of 65 billion litres of water upstream of Shrewsbury to protect against regular flooding – equivalent to 26,000 Olympic swimming pools worth of water.

In an update on the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme the EA said it is considering a raft of measures, and it is expected that more detailed proposals will be forthcoming in "early 2022".

A spokesman for the EA said: "We will now look at further options and combinations of options to reduce flood risk, manage water resources and enhance the environment.

"These options could include engineered solutions such as the construction of flood walls and embankments; natural flood risk management measures that slow the flow of water upstream such as tree planting or the creation of leaky dams; alternative farming and land management practices; operating reservoirs in a different way; and other storage options across the catchment.

"We are also working closely with Severn Trent Water and Water Resources West, to identify opportunities for securing future water resources within the catchment."

Flooding Minister Rebecca Pow was due to visit Beales Corner in Bewdley on Wednesday to announce the permanent scheme, which will replace temporary flood barriers currently in place.

It comes as the possibility of permanent flood defences in Ironbridge are still being examined by officials.

The Bewdley project would better protect around 31 homes at Beales Corner and more than 150 businesses from flooding from the River Severn once completed.

Ms Pow said: “Flooding is a devastating experience as people in Bewdley know only too well.

“The new Beales Corner scheme, combined with flood alleviation projects further up the Severn Valley, will help significantly reduce the risk of flooding in this area in future.

“It is just one part of our wider action on flooding supported by our commitment of a record-breaking £5.2 billion across England between now and 2027, to better protect hundreds of thousands more homes.”

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