‘Natural defences’ could provide answer for Halesworth flood worries

Environemnt Agency hopes to discuss plans for flood defences in Halesworth. Photo: MIKE PAGE

Environemnt Agency hopes to discuss plans for flood defences in Halesworth. Photo: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

Talks are set to take place over options for new defences to protect a north Suffolk market town from flooding.

The Environment Agency is planning to open the discussions following recent questions about what can be done to protect Halesworth and the surrounding areas close to the River Blyth from flooding.

According to the East Suffolk Catchment Flood Management Plan, the areas most at risk from flooding are around the River Blyth near to the Thoroughfare, Chediston Street, Saxons Way and School Lane, as well as the A144 and the railway line.

A survey back in 2009 showed that 45 properties were at risk of flooding.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: 'We hope to meet with partners in the Halesworth community in the near future to hear ideas and begin discussions to investigate whether there is the potential for reducing flood risk.

'We have commissioned a revised flood model for the River Blyth catchment, and the findings will provide up to date information on town flood risk.'

Halesworth Town Council has been asked about the possibility of a scheme similar to work done to protect the Holnicote Estate in north Somerset.

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An experiment launched at the estate by the National Trust 10 years ago has seen a series of natural flood management measures put in place, including blocking ditches and creating catch-pools to help reduce the amount of water run-off from moorland.

Planting trees along the riverbank has slowed the progress of water.

Riverside fields have been turned back into water meadows with the support of local farmers, and five large flood storage areas (earth bunds) have been created, offering a place to temporarily store floodwater.

The work has helped to slow the flow of water in the catchment, protecting the villages of Bossington and Allerford from flooding.

Town councillor David Thomas said that while a scheme of Holnicote's size would possibly be too large for Halesworth, a modified version of the project could work.

Councillors authorised the town clerk's office to contact the Environment Agency and Suffolk County Council to look at the issue.

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