Press release: Natural flood management scheme for Yorkshire Dales communities

Running through the dale from just south of Kidstones to its confluence with the River Ure just down from Aysgarth Falls, Bishopdale Beck can quickly overtop and cause flooding in heavy rain.

The main road through the dale, the B6160, can become impassable and result in local residents in villages, such as Kidstones and Newbiggin, being unable to access vital infrastructure including schools, doctors’ surgeries and shops.

But now a natural flood management (NFM) scheme aims to better protect the community in Bishopdale, which was chosen as one of three schemes in Yorkshire to benefit from an equal share of £501,000 of Government funding NFM initiatives.

Measures will be selected from a range of NFM interventions, including run-off management, using earth bunds and leaky wooden dams, peatland restoration, woodland creation, riparian buffer strips and management of floodplain grazing.

Simon Stokes, of the Environment Agency, said the scheme has been made possible by partner organisations coming together.

He said:

We look forward to working with the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the local community in delivering this project.

We hope that this project will really showcase partnership working and deliver a noticeable increase in resilience to flooding for the communities in the Bishopdale Beck catchment as well as improving the environment for both people and wildlife.

The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust has been working with landowners to create individual farm plans, something which the partner organisations say they are keen to do more of in the Dales.

Tarja Wilson, of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), said:

The idea is simple: farmers in the hills can take measures to slow down flood waters, both benefitting their businesses and lowering the risk of homes being flooded downstream.

In Bishopdale farmers are working collaboratively through the Wensleydale Facilitation Fund to consider how they can carry out natural flood management on their holdings.

Natural flood management isn’t a silver bullet which will solve flooding downstream, but it has multiple benefits for farmers, such as improving water quality and reducing flood risk. It can be a genuine win-win, for farmers and the wider community.

The scheme will be developed in close consultation with communities and landowners to ensure interventions complement existing agricultural businesses.

Local famer and landowner Robert Brown said:

It’s great to see investment in the uplands for natural flood management. Previous projects have been very successful and it’s good to see lots of local farmers and landowners getting involved.

Dan Turner, of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, said:

The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust is really looking forward to working in partnership with the YDNPA and EA on the Bishopdale natural flood management project.

We believe that this could be a real flagship project, delivering natural flood management on a catchment scale while also providing other benefits, such as wildlife, and reducing diffuse pollution.

We have been working closely with farmers in the catchment for many years, so it’s great to once again, work together to creating a more resilient catchment, that’s both profitable, sustainable and working with the natural environment.

The scheme will complement peatland restoration work delivered through Pennine PeatLIFE, an EU LIFE project co-funded by the Environment Agency and water companies.

The project delivery partners, the Yorkshire Peat Partnership, have been working with land owners in Bishopdale to restore upland blanket bog habitat in the area.

These habitats are vital for water storage, with healthy bogs storingg and holding more water and sediment.

The two other areas to get a share of the £501,000 Government funding announced in the 2016 autumn budget for natural flood management schemes in Yorkshire are Brompton Beck, near Northallerton, and Backstones Beck in Ilkley.

The funding was part of a national £15million NFM programme which, in addition to delivering flood risk reduction and environmental enhancements, aims to contribute to the growing evidence base for NFM.




News story: Water resources during hotter summer months

The Environment Agency is urging people to follow water company advice to use water wisely during these hotter summer months to help manage demand and reduce the impact on the environment.

The overall water resources situation across England is looking generally healthy. Groundwater levels throughout England are now starting to naturally decline as expected for the time of year but remain within normal levels the start of summer. Rivers, lakes and reservoirs are also broadly where they should be for this time of year. Although during dry spells it’s not unusual for some rivers and lakes in faster responding water catchments to drop quickly but they tend to recover quickly when the rain returns.

Environment Agency operational teams and hydrologists continually monitor water levels throughout the year and will determine what action is needed. During hot weather we work with water companies and other organisations to reduce the impacts of the hot weather on the environment. The action we take includes incident response, regulating water abstraction, advising businesses and farmers on water usage and monitoring for environmental impacts.

The Environment Agency also takes action to ensure water companies have made robust plans for managing water supplies, although water companies themselves would decide on proposing water restrictions.

Paul Hickey, Deputy Director and head of water resources for the Environment Agency said:

A natural reduction in river flows and groundwater levels at this time of year is to be expected and water companies plan for these summer months. The summer started with river flow and groundwaters at normal levels in most areas, including the south east following the rain in spring.

There is enough water for companies to maintain supplies if water resources are managed properly. There are no water use restrictions in place. It is always helpful, in terms of future supplies and protecting the environment, for everyone to follow advice on saving water from their water company and use water wisely. At this time of year the Environment Agency is always ready to respond to pressure on rivers caused by low flows and we continue to monitor the situation.

If the public see fish gulping for air that could be because of reduced oxygen and river flows, please report it the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

More detail on the current water situation is available on the Environment Agency’s Creating a Better Place blog:

Summer has started – what does that mean for the water situation in England?




News story: Water resources during hotter summer months

The Environment Agency is urging people to follow water company advice to use water wisely during these hotter summer months to help manage demand and reduce the impact on the environment.

The overall water resources situation across England is looking generally healthy. Groundwater levels throughout England are now starting to naturally decline as expected for the time of year but remain within normal levels the start of summer. Rivers, lakes and reservoirs are also broadly where they should be for this time of year. Although during dry spells it’s not unusual for some rivers and lakes in faster responding water catchments to drop quickly but they tend to recover quickly when the rain returns.

Environment Agency operational teams and hydrologists continually monitor water levels throughout the year and will determine what action is needed. During hot weather we work with water companies and other organisations to reduce the impacts of the hot weather on the environment. The action we take includes incident response, regulating water abstraction, advising businesses and farmers on water usage and monitoring for environmental impacts.

The Environment Agency also takes action to ensure water companies have made robust plans for managing water supplies, although water companies themselves would decide on proposing water restrictions.

Paul Hickey, Deputy Director and head of water resources for the Environment Agency said:

A natural reduction in river flows and groundwater levels at this time of year is to be expected and water companies plan for these summer months. The summer started with river flow and groundwaters at normal levels in most areas, including the south east following the rain in spring.

There is enough water for companies to maintain supplies if water resources are managed properly. There are no water use restrictions in place. It is always helpful, in terms of future supplies and protecting the environment, for everyone to follow advice on saving water from their water company and use water wisely. At this time of year the Environment Agency is always ready to respond to pressure on rivers caused by low flows and we continue to monitor the situation.

If the public see fish gulping for air that could be because of reduced oxygen and river flows, please report it the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

More detail on the current water situation is available on the Environment Agency’s Creating a Better Place blog:

Summer has started – what does that mean for the water situation in England?




Policy paper: Elmer flood and coastal erosion risk management scheme

Updated: Update to scheme progress 22 August 2018.

In August 2018 the Environment Agency will provide the local community with the opportunity to find out more about the preferred option to improve the sea defences at Elmer, and the chance to provide feedback to the project team.




News story: Update on seasonal closure for North West queen scallop fishery

A working group, including representatives from the fishing industry, is encouraging fishermen to voluntarily avoid targeting queen scallops in the Irish Sea (ICES area VIIa) and waters West of Scotland (ICES area VIa) until after 31 July 2018.

This follows an earlier, seasonal closure between 1 April 2018 and 30 June 2018 which the Marine Management Organisation put in place for conservation reasons.

The seasonal closure will be enacted each year until further notice and is designed to protect the stocks during the spawning period. This closure was supported by respondents to a UK-wide consultation held between 11 October 2016 and 2 January 2017 by Marine Scotland.

The working group was formed as a result of correspondence from some queen scallop fishermen and processors about the fishery. It includes fishermen, processors, fisheries administrations and scientists. The group aims to assess the current status of the fishery and, if appropriate, develop management measures and reduce long-term risk.

Following significant discussion, the working group considered that in the short term a voluntary closed season until 31 July 2018 should be introduced.