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11 April 2024
Green Economy

Plans Unveiled to Reduce Flooding Risk for Businesses in Upper Severn Valley

Environmental bodies are seeking views on plans which aim to better protect 1,000 businesses and more than 3,000 homes from flood risk.

The consultation is being run by the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme (SVWMS), which is led by a partnership of the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Powys County Council and Shropshire Council.

It is being developed in response to significant flooding of the River Severn across the upper Severn catchment in recent decades which has damaged homes and businesses, impacted local infrastructure and disrupted travel.

The organisations say with winter flooding and summer drought becoming more frequent, balancing the water needs in the area is paramount to being able to adapt to these weather extremes. The proposals will form part of a Severn Valley Water Management strategy to deliver a long-term sustainable plan for the communities who live and work in the Severn catchment on both sides of the Wales – England border.

The consultation sets out a proposed approach to strategy development that will contribute towards reducing flood risk and increasing water security. The strategy will also support communities and nature locally and provide a boost to the local economy.

The project also seeks to support the management of long-term water resources, with recent periods of prolonged dry weather having resulted in the need for action to minimise the environmental damage from low water flows. As an example of these extremes, in 2022 the Upper Severn catchment went from winter flooding to drought within the space of 8 months, with groundwater and reservoir stores being used to support the people and wildlife who depend on the water supply provided by the Severn.

To help address these issues, the SVWMS is adopting a regenerative approach, meaning that interventions will seek to positively contribute to addressing the climate crisis and halting biodiversity decline, whilst also providing significant flood risk benefits. It will investigate interventions including natural flood risk management measures that slow the flow of water upstream such as the creation of leaky dams and land management practices as well as engineered solutions such as the construction of flood storage areas and embankments.

The SVWMS team have already undertaken scoping work to better understand the potential scale of both nature-based and engineered interventions that might be required to enable effective water management across the area, upstream of Shrewsbury.

Gavin Bown, Natural Resources Wales’ Head of Operations for Mid Wales, said: 

“The impact of flooding can be devastating for communities, and the reality of the climate crisis means that we have to adapt to extreme weather conditions in the future.

“We are a partner of the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme because it has the potential to enhance our work to reduce flood risk to communities in north Powys while also providing important benefits for nature and the environment.

“This consultation is an important step in learning about what is important for communities across the catchment, and it will influence how we move forward to protect people and the local environment.”

The closing date for the consultation is May 21 2024. Respondents in Wales can respond in Welsh at: https://bit.ly/SVWMSCYM0424  and in English at: https://bit.ly/SVWMSENG0424

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