A natural flood management scheme in Essex has hit the headlines this week thanks in no small part to the involvement of a horse called Roy.
Roy, a Suffolk Punch, was brought in by project partners the Environment Agency and Essex County Council as part of an innovative approach to flood protection at Thorndon Country Park, near Brentwood.
The scheme was featured on BBC Look East and BBC London news bulletins, as well as on BBC Radio Essex and across several local media websites in the county.
The project, which has also been a success on local EA social media channels, involves installing ‘leaky dams’ on two tributaries upstream of Old Hall Pond, and one watercourse downstream of the pond.
‘Leaky dams’ are a form of Natural Flood Management (NFM) which use locally sourced materials to build leaky wooden dams across watercourses.
These will help to slow the flow of water in times of heavy rain and reduce surface water flood risk to residential properties downstream in West Horndon.
Thorndon Country Park is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) woodland area with protected trees and listed parkland. In order to protect this environment, Roy is being used to move the timber into place instead of heavy machinery.
The project is being delivered by Essex County Council’s (ECC) Flood & Water Management team, with funding provided by the Environment Agency through the Anglian Eastern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC).
The Environment Agency has also helped with the design of the scheme and will be involved in monitoring the effectiveness going forward, while the council’s Place Services team provided arboricultural, ecological and historic advice.
Matt Butcher, project lead and Environment Manager for the Environment Agency in Essex, was interviewed live on BBC Radio Essex and was featured in the TV coverage. He said:
This innovative project shows how possible it is to introduce effective flood management measures in a sustainable way at the heart of a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Natural flood management not only reduces flood risk it can also achieve multiple benefits for people and wildlife, helping restore habitats, improve water quality and helping make catchments more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Matt has also been interviewed regularly due to his involvement with the Essex Beavers scheme at Spains Hall, another innovative NFM project that has gained a positive media profile this year.