On average, flooding costs the UK economy £1.1 billion a year. The cost of the 2015 floods alone was £5 billion. One in six properties in the UK is now at risk of flooding. But this need not be. The evidence, both in the UK and abroad, is incontrovertible: naturalising rivers and rewilding river catchment areas prevents flooding. It is far cheaper, safer and more resilient than engineering hard flood defences. And it brings with it other huge economic benefits in terms of water purification, soil restoration, drought resistance and wildlife.
Data from a flow box installed at Bay Bridge where the Adur leaves Knepp has not yet been analysed by the Environment Agency. But anecdotally, at least, it seems the re-naturalisation of our section of the river is having an impact on the flow of water around and below us. Estate cottages at Tenchford and Knepp Mill, notoriously prone to flooding in the past, have not been flooded since the project began. Surrounding roads that are often closed because of floods, have remained passable.
Harribin, Roger. ‘Back to nature flood schemes need “government leadership”’. BBC News. (January 16, 2014) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25752320
Lean, Geoffrey. ‘UK flooding: How a Yorkshire town worked with nature to stay dry’. Independent. (2 January 2016)
‘Flood defence spending in England’. House of Commons briefing. (November 2014) file:///C:/Users/issy.KNEPP/Downloads/SN05755.pdf
‘Flooding in Focus – recommendations for more effective flood management in England’. RSPB. (2014) https://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/flooding-in-focus_tcm9-386202.pdf
‘How rewilding reduces flood risk’. Rewilding Britain report. (September 2016) http://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/assets/uploads/files/publications/Final-flood-report/Rewilding-Britain-Flood-Report-Sep-6-16.pdf
‘Working with natural processes to reduce flood risks’. Environment Agency, DEFRA, Natural Resources Wales. (July 2014) http://evidence.environment-agency.gov.uk/FCERM/Libraries/FCERM_Project_Documents/WWNP_framework.sflb.ashx
‘Slowing the flow at Pickering’, Forest Research https://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/slowingtheflow and Institute of Civil Engineers https://www.ice.org.uk/disciplines-and-resources/case-studies/slowing-the-flow-at-pickering
‘The Pontbren Project - a farmer-led approach to sustainable land management in the uplands’. Research report by the Woodland Trust (February 2013) http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/mediafile/100263187/rr-wt-71014-pontbren-project-2014.pdf