SRA Annual Report 2019-20: Natural flood management (NFM) capital grant schemes across Somerset

Schemes begun or completed in 2019-20

Note that there is usually a time-lag between grants for schemes being approved by the SRA and work being done at sites by contractors. So although the SRA approved 48 grant applications in 2019-20, people have not always got going straightaway. Various factors can affect timings, such as the ground being too wet or too dry or the availability of contractors.

Note also that seven capital grant schemes part-funded by the SRA on the National Trust’s Holnicote estate in west Somerset are featured for convenience on a separate page.

Barrington, Hill Farm, Westmoor Main Drain. A tree and hedge planting scheme to help reduce run-off from farmland into the troublesome Bonnings Lane area of Barrington. The SRA paid 75% of the costs of three elements, the landowner 25%. First, the planting of 50 metres of new hedge and 200 trees in a corner close to Barrington on a flow pathway across a small valley. Second, the planting of 268 metres of new hedge with 1400 hedge plants on a bank on the split between two fields, to prevent run-off across fields above Barrington. Third, increasing the density of trees in an area on a bank above Barrington where SRA-funded planting started in 2018-19, by adding 100 trees.

Bruton, River Brue. A team of 18 Brue Crew volunteers created stone berms in the Brue upstream of Church Bridge in Bruton town centre, using 30 tonnes of limestone donated by the nearby Emily Estate. The berms complement the v-notching of the stone weir downstream of the bridge in 2018, another job funded by the SRA, that was done with a pneumatic drill. The new features were designed in consultation with Somerset Wildlife Trust, the Wild Trout Trust and the Environment Agency. One purpose is to make the channel more sinuous and so help to ‘slow the flow’ in the upper reaches of the Brue, another is to help scour silt out from under part of the bridge, a third is to provide a new spawning habitat for wild trout.

Curry Mallet, Stud Farm, Fivehead River catchment. Improvements have been made to a large pond uphill from Curry Mallet previously funded by the SRA in 2016-17. Since its creation this pond has significantly reduced flooding problems in the village. It does this by capturing, diverting and storing run-off from a stream and arable fields. The eastern bank of the pond has been reinforced with rocky material. The pond’s spillway has been widened and will also be reinforced to prevent scouring. The clay seal in the pond bed has also been improved to help store nearly 5,000 cubic metres of water.

Horton (near Ilminster), Pottery Farm, River Isle. 480 trees and shrubs were planted on 0.4 hectares of waterlogged soil which is next to a tributary of the River Isle and was prone to run-off. The River Isle feeds into the River Parrett near Midelney, south of Langport.

Nunney, Sharpshaw Farm, Nunney Brook (source to confluence with Mells River). A scheme that began as a highways referral. Water running off a long sloping field through a gateway was exacerbating road flooding, and causing problems in winter with cars slipping on ice. Following visits from Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest (FWAG SW) advisers, several moves have been made. A concrete sleeping policeman has been built across the gateway and the entrance has been filled with hardcore. Water is now diverted into a new 12-metre long blind ditch, where it is held back before soaking slowly through brashy soil. Local highways officers report success.

Westbury sub Mendip, Old Ditch Farm, River Axe (source to Cocklake). 254 trees have been planted across flow pathways in Dead Pit and Bottom Meadow to improve the infiltration of water and delay run-off onto Lynch Lane, Westbury sub Mendip, and down into the village. To guard against nibbling and rubbing by cattle and sheep, the trees have been fenced off.

Wigborough, Creedy Bridge floodplain storage scheme – South Petherton parish, River Parrett catchment. Work was originally done here for the Parrett Catchment Project (PCP), a partnership launched following summer flooding in 1997 and prolonged flooding in 1999-2000. The scheme’s aim was to hold back floodwater, then control its release. A review of PCP schemes carried out for the SRA in 2019 by FWAG SW showed that part of an embankment here had eroded. Instead of being managed, floodwater could escape through the gap. SRA funding meant the bank could be repaired and strengthened. The gap was filled in with soil taken from elsewhere on the site and a protective layer of coir matting was installed. New fencing will protect the feature from livestock.

Winsford, Little Ash Farm, Winn Brook. Three brash dams and two woody dams have been constructed in Winn Brook, to slow the flow of water and trap small pieces of debris and sediment, thereby reducing problems for culverts downstream. 365 metres of fencing has also been erected to exclude livestock. This benefits water quality and reduces bankside erosion. The SRA funded 60% of the costs of this project, the Headwaters of the Exe 40%.

Wiveliscombe, Withycombe Farm, tributary of Hillfarrance Brook. Two hedges planted across flow pathways in steep fields, to slow the flow of water going down to a pond. Other applications to increase the usefulness of the pond and a former mill leat are awaited.

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