Project set to tackle flooding through natural solutions
By David Wood | 19th April 2023
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is partnering with RSA Insurance to provide Natural Flood Management (NFM) solutions to areas most affected here in the county.
Flooding is one of the greatest challenges facing homes and businesses across the UK. In England alone, with more than 5 million properties - one in six - at risk of flooding, according to the National Assessment of Flood Risk report conducted by The Environment Agency.
Additionally, recent analysis by MORE THAN, which is a part of RSA, shows that the average number of claims it received for weather-related incidents rose by 58% over the last three years, with the average flood claim costing around £39,000.
The British Ecological Society (BES) has highlighted the devastating effects frequent extreme weather events can have on freshwater ecosystems, and the need for proactive strategies to increase ecosystem resilience by improving the connectivity of habitats.
The first joint venture of its kind, the new partnership will see RSA make an initial £400,000 investment to use nature-based interventions to help limit the impact of flooding on local habitats and improve the resilience of local communities. The work will be good for people and good for wildlife, reducing flood risk and boosting biodiversity.
The programme will showcase ways to address flooding triggers in Gloucester and Cheltenham at source, using a wide range of methods. Driveway de-paving, rain gardens, the installation of green verges and building of attenuation ponds to capture rain water to reduce peak flows will all form part of the work.
An extensive community engagement and education campaign will also see the partnership visit local schools and communities, providing advice on natural solutions to flood risk and habitat creation to thousands of local residents and businesses.
By committing to a two-year project plan, RSA and GWT are allowing time to build community relationships to affect real change. This timeframe will allow them to assess the impact of interventions on communities, and their ability and confidence to take action for the environment, whilst also benefiting data collection to provide proof points for the effectiveness of NFMs and hopefully encourage widespread adoption in other affected areas.
Specific sites already being looked at as part of this project include:
- Naunton Park
- Plock Court (in partnership with Gloucester City Council)
- For driveway de-paving work, Cirencester Road in Charlton Kings.
Laura Spiers, head of UK&I Social Impact and ESG, said: "By working together with different organisations we can use the power of nature to increase flood resilience. Helping to build more resilient communities and support people to adapt to the effects of climate change is a key part of RSA's ESG strategy, and I'm excited to see how this partnership might help to influence the spread of other nature-based solutions across the country."
Roger Mortlock, CEO of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said: "Nature has a huge role to play in helping us tackle the impacts of climate change, including flooding. We are no strangers to the impact of flooding in Gloucestershire - that's why we are delighted to be working with the RSA to demonstrate the role that nature can play.
Karen Andrews. catchment co-ordinator for Severn Vale Catchment Partnership, Environment Agency, said: "This is an exciting and innovative project which will help to showcase Nature-based Solutions to flooding and to biodiversity loss in our urban areas, and we are really pleased to be collaborating with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to help to identify where these interventions might provide the greatest benefits for the people of Cheltenham and Gloucester."
Gloucester MP Richard Graham added: "I'm delighted to hear of this partnership as a positive step towards the improvement of flood management particularly for my constituents in Gloucester."
A statement from RSA said: "The new partnership will see RSA work together with GWT on an extensive NFM programme to help reduce flood risk across Cheltenham and Gloucester, which the insurer identified as two areas that have some of the most acute flood risk using 20 years of data examining river, coastal and surface water flooding.
"More than 15,000 homes in Gloucester and 8,500 homes in Cheltenham are considered potentially vulnerable to flooding each year."
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