Taking measures to tackle flooding in Southwell
A muddy field at the highest point overlooking Southwell Minster is the scene of the latest moves in the £4.5m scheme to avoid a repeat of the torrents of water that flooded the town in the summer of 2013.
Land belonging to Neil Malik, of Smithfield Farm, Crink Lane, flooded then, before the waters rushed down to engulf the town centre, but he is hoping new earthworks in the fields used by his 200-strong herd of sheep will play a part in keeping the town safe from any repetition.
"In 2013 we suffered flooding in the stable, the manège and on the land, but this is one of the highest points in Southwell, so everything hits here and flows down to the town centre. The works here are about addressing the root causes of the flooding rather than the symptoms," he said.
Mr Malik, whose farm has been in his wife's family for three generations, said ditches and culverts had filled up or been destroyed or neglected over the years.
"Crink Lane here used to have a ditch all the way down it, but people have parked on it and it has collapsed, so the rain just goes down the road, and of course in a flood the drains can't take the volume of water, so then the manholes come up and everything is flooded."
The prevention works consist of two new ponds and a bund — an earth mound containing pipes, which holds back the water but slowly releases it to flow into a network of 'leaky barriers' until the crisis passes.
Project manager for the natural flood management scheme is Josh Wells, of the Trent Rivers Trust.
He said: "It's a mosaic of methods. As well as the new ponds and the bund here we have two more bunds towards the Brackenhurst College campus, plus four more bunds and 17 leaky barriers.
"These are natural wood barriers across streams. The idea is that low flows pass through unimpeded but during high flows the water backs up behind them, so that we can temporarily attenuate the water, or slow the flow."
Works have also been undertaken by the National Flood Forum.
Nottinghamshire County Council put in an initial flood prevention investment of £600,000 and wrote a business case on Southwell's behalf to apply for multi-million pound grant-funding from Defra (the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). Smaller contributions from Southwell Town Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council swelled the total to £4.5m.
In a party taking a tour of the new earthworks above the town, county councillor Mr Phil Rostance, vice-chairman of the communities and place committee, said: "The funding will pay for a range of measures which we are working on between now and 2020 for Southwell, and we have had another grant of £350,000 from the European Development Fund that has specifically gone into paying for this scheme.
"We have been working with ten landowners in total who have put their land up for us to work on. We have also been working with Southwell Flood Forum. Their local knowledge and ideas have been invaluable, because they know where the water accumulates and the best areas to work on."
Sue Jacques, the county council's team manager for flood risk management, said: "We got the money together that facilitated not just these works but also the big scheme of hard engineering in Southwell, and individual protection for some of the most vulnerable properties in the community.
"We are hoping to start on that imminently."
The county council is arranging an event to publicise the flood defence work being undertaken. It will be held at Southwell Library at 7pm on April 3.
Mr Malik is looking forward to seeing how the latest flood defences work in practice.
"Josh from the Trent Rivers Trust did a top-drawer job from start to finish. Now the proof of the pudding is to see what happens if we get downpours. We will see if the ponds work and the bunds work," he said.