East Devon flood reduction plans
TALKS are being planned aimed at reducing the risk of flooding to properties in Topsham. The Environment Agency and its partners on the East Devon Flood Recovery Group are teaming up with farmers to reduce the risk of flooding. The move comes after more t
TALKS are being planned aimed at reducing the risk of flooding to properties in Topsham.
The Environment Agency and its partners on the East Devon Flood Recovery Group are teaming up with farmers to reduce the risk of flooding.
The move comes after more than 350 properties in a number of towns and villages in East Devon were flooded in October last year.
Councillor Graham Brown, East Devon District Council's portfolio holder for environment, said: "Something has got to be done to reduce the risk.
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"I'm delighted that we are working with farmers to tackle this part of the problem. Together we can crack this."
More than 80 per cent of the affected properties hit last year were not flooded by main rivers that pass through parts of East Devon but by small streams or surface water run-off.
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Since then, the Environment Agency has carried out extensive research that has demonstrated the way land was managed was one of the factors contributing to the high level of run-off.
It was decided to work with farmers, East Devon District Council and Devon County Council to find a solution.
A spokesperson for Devon County Council said: "The main land management problem is soil compaction.
"This happens when wet soil is compresses, especially by the weight of machinery or livestock.
"When soil is compacted it becomes sealed making it almost impossible to absorb rainwater, causing surface water to run off."
During the East Devon floods, as much as 177 millimetres of rain fell on Topsham and its surrounding areas in just three hours.
"When this much water falls onto compacted land, flash flooding is inevitable.
"It's made even worse if the farmland is on a steep slope above a town or village. This is the reality in many parts of East Devon."
Richard Smith, the Land Quality Officer from the Environment Agency who has led the soils research, said: 'When in good condition, well drained soil can absorb huge quantities of rainwater.
"Our work has shown that an open loose soil structure can absorb 50 millimetres of rain per hour, but a hard compacted soil can shed up to 90 per cent as surface water run-off.
"This problem is widespread in East Devon."
Melanie Hall, Regional Director for the National Farmers Union in the South West, said: 'We welcome the Environment Agency working with farmers to manage the risks of flooding through land management where practical.