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'Natural' engineering offers solution against future flooding
Date:1/28/2014

Back-to-nature flood schemes which use the land's natural defences to slow river flow and reduce flooding could be a cost-effective way of tackling one of the biggest problems facing the UK today.

The schemes which include capturing flow upstream to prevent floods downstream where they are likely to have a greater impact on infrastructure and homes have been trialled as part of a five-year research project by experts from Newcastle University in partnership with the Environment Agency.

Using Belford Burn in Northumberland as a demonstration, the team have shown that by changing and hindering the natural flow pathways within a small catchment system, it is possible to manage the amount of run-off from the land. This reduces the risk of flooding in low-lying areas and also cuts down on pollution by preventing phosphorous and nitrates from being washed off the land.

Published this month in the academic journal Science of the Total Environment, the findings were presented last week at the House of Commons Office of Science and Technology to inform the Government's Environment White Paper.

Research lead, Dr Mark Wilkinson, who carried out the work while at Newcastle University and is now based at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, said: "Climate projections for the UK suggest that total rainfall during winter months will continue to rise and with it the risk of flooding.

"What we have shown at Belford is that by employing so-called 'soft engineering solutions' to restrict the progress of water through a catchment disconnecting fast-flow pathways and adding storage we have been able to reduce the risk of flooding in the lower areas and, most importantly, in the town. "Belford is not unique and there are many other areas around the UK where these solutions could make a significant impact and potentially protect peoples' homes from some of the more severe flooding we are seeing at the moment."

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Contact: Louella Houldcroft
Louella.houldcroft@ncl.ac.uk
44-019-120-85108
Newcastle University
Source:Eurekalert

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