Flooding - it's only natural

As Shropshire reels in the face of another flood surge it’s time to think about the causes and solutions. All too often we forget that rivers are natural systems, with most having followed their course since the last Ice Age over 10,000 years ago.

People have modified rivers and streams in efforts to drain land and grow more food. However, the time has come to recognise the benefits to the whole community of doing things differently.
Rivers always have and always will flood. Flood barriers protect homes, but push the water on to the next town – Shrewsbury to Ironbridge to Bridgnorth to Bewdley – flood plains are nature’s way of absorbing floods. Vegetation, especially trees, holds the water and releases it slowly helping to slow flooding events.

Slow the Flow project Woody debris dam in a Corve Dale brook

Slow the Flow project woody debris dam in a Corve Dale brook

In times of flooding there are always plenty of engineering solutions suggested. “Dredge the river”, “culvert the river”, “divert the river back to the Welsh coast” have all appeared in local papers. The latest idea is to use the proposed Shrewsbury North West Road as a dam. The people living in the villages upstream may wish to speak to their MP about this!

NWRR Clayton Way view west

The proposed route will pass through the Severn floodplain

A better and more environmentally-conscious solution would be to scrap this unnecessary road that will generate more traffic – a major cause of climate change – and invest in returning the Severn to a more natural state. Floodplain forests and permanent pasture rather than ploughing land will help hold water. Of course, if we want land to hold water and capture carbon we need to pay for this public good. 

We must support innovative approaches taken by farm businesses to combine food production with using the land to give us all a safe and secure future. A natural River Severn would be good for alleviating floods and good for our beleaguered wildlife.

Shropshire Council - Flood support