Conference brings flooding issues into focusPublished Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Churchtown Flood Action Group's flood conference was a first rate event that provided information on all things flooding and valuable insight into what it is actually like to experience flooding.
The conference on 28 January opened with a video featuring victims of the flooding in Churchtown, many of whom are only now returning to their homes. There was also a presentation on the disruptive effect flooding has on the lives of children; missing their homes and belongings, their friends and even having to change schools. While children are educated in school about fire safety, flooding is not covered. Support for child victims of flooding is essential to help them deal with their losses and adapt to the future.
The importance of community flood action groups was highlighted both for improving local resilience and as pressure groups for action. In particular, the need for co-ordination from the ground upwards and to communicate the message that it could happen in other villages, as one in six properties is at risk of flooding.
A most interesting presentation was given by Mike Potter from Pickering on how working with local landowners the community slowed the flow of water higher in the river catchment area by constructing leaky dams made of timber, restoring peat bogs and planting more trees and hedges; projects which we need to progress in the River Wyre catchment area.
We are working with the Wyre Rivers Trust on 'slowing the flow' initiatives within the borough. This also includes input into the upper and mid Wyre review, natural flood management, a fluvial audit, landscape assessments, modelling and the installation of local monitoring stations, the latter mentioned by Professor Onno Bokhove from Leeds University in terms of assessing risk.
It’s worth mentioning that the National Farmers Union’s flooding manifesto (nfu.org.uk) has recognised that farming has a key role to play in flood management. They say that where farmers provide a service in mitigating flood risk to help others, this must be a coherent planned component of the total catchment management for which farmers must be fairly compensated.
One of the last speakers was from the Environment Agency, who stressed their commitment to the maintenance and strengthening of existing defences, upstream water management and assisting flood resilience in our communities.
Visit wyre.gov.uk/flooding for practical advice about being prepared for flooding and details of community flood action groups.
Councillor Roger Berry, Neighbourhood Services and Community Safety Portfolio Holder at Wyre Council