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Go-ahead for £1.7m schemes aiming to reduce River Severn flooding

Projects that aim to provide nature-based solutions to reducing flooding have been given the green light.

Flooding in Shrewsbury in March
Flooding in Shrewsbury in March

Two projects aiming to reduce flooding on the River Severn and deliver a range of environmental improvements were approved at a meeting of Shropshire Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday.

The schemes, which will total £1.7 million, focus on tributaries that join the Severn at Shrewsbury and are to be delivered over the next four years.

They will be delivered on behalf of the River Severn Partnership, which is jointly chaired by the Shropshire Council and the Environment Agency but encompasses a wide range of government partners, businesses and community-based organisations across the entire Severn and Wye catchment area.

The first for Rea Brook will cost £900,000 and will be delivered by Severn Rivers Trust.

The Rea Brook scheme will see the construction of 200 leaky dams, create four hectares of woodland, plant 1.5km of hedgerows across slopes, build at least 35 water storage features such as ponds, scrapes and swales to increase water storage capacity during storms and install rainwater harvesting systems on farms.

The plans are set to create an estimated 35 hectares of new wetland habitat and native woodlands, improve water quality, provide valuable homes for birds and amphibians, improve soil biodiversity and support farm businesses through water efficiency savings.

The second, costing £800,000, will focus on the River Perry, which flows from near Oswestry to meet the Severn north of Shrewsbury.

The Perry project will be led by Shropshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with Harper Adams University.

It will involve the rewetting of 11 hectares of peatland, creating three hectares of new, native woodland, at least five water storage features and nine hectares of paludiculture - a wetland farming system.

Harper Adams University will also be holding two peatland conferences, to support and engage with farmers in North Shropshire.

Councillor Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member, said: “Delivery of the Shropshire-based demonstrator projects for the River Severn Partnership will accelerate testing and learning around nature-based responses to climate resilience and adaptation.

“It will also help establish the River Severn Partnership as the UK’s first strategic rural partnership, harnessing the natural and cultural value of the UK’s longest river system to provide the catalyst for community resilience and economic prosperity in the face of climate change and a nature emergency."

At the meeting, councillors from across the political spectrum welcomed the decision.

Bridgnorth Councillor Julia Buckley said that while the projects were not in the Bridgnorth area they would benefit all areas of the River Severn.

She said: "They are using nature to work with nature for the benefit of all of us. Slowing the flow has to be the way forward. We can not put in flood walls on the whole of the River Severn."

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