We’re working with local farmers, landowners and Dovenby Flood Action Group to develop landscape features inspired by nature that aim to help reduce flood risk to Dovenby and provide other environmental benefits for watercourses and the surrounding land.

The issue: Flooding in Dovenby

Dovenby village is at risk of flooding, most recently in 2015 (Storm Desmond) when four houses and the local pub were affected. In total, twelve properties are at risk. There are a number factors that contribute to flooding in Dovenby, including heavy clay agricultural soils and straightened watercourses upstream that causes water to reach the village rapidly. Within the village there is old infrastructure such as bridges, drains and culverts that have insufficient capacity to cope with the amount of water.

Ecologically, the beck is in a poor condition with high sediment and nutrient loads and very little habitat diversity.

What we’re doing

We’re working with farmers and landowners across the Dovenby Beck catchment to develop new features inspired by nature that will store water in the landscape for longer after storms, with the aim of reducing peak river levels downstream.

We’re putting a range of measures in place, including:

  • Tree planting
  • Creating and restoring kested hedgerows (hedgerows planted on small embankments which enhances their flood management benefits)
  • Improving soil
  • Installing leaky barriers
  • Increasing water storage on the floodplains

These measures complement hard engineering and flood resilience measures carried out by other agencies and organisations. The combined impact of lots of small measures across the catchment could have a significant effect on flood risk. We’re keen that these measures don’t adversely affect the farm business and that they improve water quality and habitat.

Project progress

Thanks to funding from the Woodland Trust, in 2017 we undertook walkover surveys and identified a wide range of measures that would potentially reduce flood risk to the community of Dovenby. Following this, in 2018 we were very grateful to receive funding from Cumbria Community Foundation, Tallentire Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund and the Derwent River Corridors group to implement some of these measures. Work took place on three landholdings and included:

  • Installing 10 leaky dams across becks to slow the flow of water during storms
  • Creating 1 new pond to temporarily store water
  • Increasing the storage capacity of an existing pond so it can store more water during flood events
  • Fencing off 1 km of watercourse to reduce grazing and encourage bankside vegetation to slow the flow

  
Leaky dams (L) and pond restoration (R) 

  
Riparian buffer strip (L) and pond creation (R)

In 2020, we were awarded funding from the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC) Local Levy Programme. Work will take place in spring 2021 and will include:

  • Creating of an earth embankment and pond to temporarily store water on the floodplain
  • Installing a further series of leaky dams
  • Restoring a kested hedgerow to slow the flow of water across a key overland flood pathway

Evaluating success

We want to know how effective these measures will be as a key aim of the funding is to increase the national evidence base and better understand the role of NFM in flood risk management. We’ll be monitoring all our interventions.

Funders and partners

Work in this catchment was prioritised by  West Cumbria Catchment Partnership to address multiple issues. We’re working with many of our catchment partners including the Environment Agency, Dovenby Flood Action Group, Cumbria County Council, the Woodland Trust, Farmer Network, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Cumbria Woodlands.

Want to find out more?

If you’re a landowner in the catchment and are interested in NFM measures on your land or are just keen to find out more, please contact Jonny Kidd on 017687 75429 or  jonny@westcumbriariverstrust.org