Back to nature in Belford as flood work in news

Flood-prevention work in Belford has once again been highlighted as a national example.

Last week, the Gazette reported that the pilot project in the village was featured on the national news during a discussion of back-to-nature schemes.

These 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 and 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 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, said: “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.”