Major new flood defence scheme incorporates saltmarsh restoration to absorb wave energy
Brian Joyce, geograph.co.uk / CC BY
Ribble Valley, Lancashire, UK
Work has begun on a new flood defence in the Ribble Valley Estuary. The scheme reduces flood risk through combining traditional flood embankments along with natural saltmarsh systems to safeguard against rising sea levels and to create new wildlife habitats. The project has been developed through a partnership of the Environment Agency, Natural England, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Flood defence systems have become a major source of debate in the UK following a number of large scale floods in recent years damaging thousands of houses. Andy Brown, Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager, said: “By allowing the sea to return we will be able to reduce flood risk to local people now and in the future, as the new defences take into account rising sea levels. By using natural saltmarsh we can adapt to climate change at the same time as preserving local habitats”. After the embankment has been created an area of land will be breached to return the site to salt marsh having been isolated by developers 30 years ago
Most flood defence schemes in the UK have been engineered wholly against natural systems. Tony Baker, Ribble Reserves Manager for the RSPB, said: “There is a misconception that flood risk management and nature conservation are incompatible. The Hesketh Out Marsh East scheme shows that the exact opposite is true. By creating robust flood defences that will protect people’s homes and businesses long into the future, we can also provide amazing homes for our precious wildlife.’
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