A pilot project to help reduce the risk of flooding in Uckfield is being run by the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Called Trees on the River Uck (TrUck) the scheme, begun in 2012, is based around the river’s catchment and investigates how small changes and additions to the landscape could help.
The project follows a series of floods - large and small - which have threatened the town. These include the major flood exactly ten years ago when flood water trapped 20 people in a supermarket and a jeweller had to plucked to safety by a helicopter after he was washed down the High Street.
The aim is to store, slow and delay water in order to help reduce flooding and make the landscape more resilient to a changing climate. The approach is called Natural Flood Management (NFM) and works with natural materials to create features which reduce flooding and benefit both wildlife and river health.
Sandra Manning-Jones, TrUck project officer says: “This isn’t an alternative to our man-made flood defences, but instead helps to reduce stress on existing infrastructure. There’s a range of different techniques that could be applied under a NFM approach. For example adding woodland or hedges to help slow overground water in floodplains or install permeable paving in urban areas so the water can drain.”
The project was started as a result of work by the Uckfield Flood Forum, a group of local people and the Town Council, and done by Durham University. This provided some key areas where delaying or storing water could help reduce flood peak in Uckfield. Since then, Sandra said, they’ve received more funding enabling them to expand the scheme to the wider Ouse catchment but she says this funding will end in May 2016.
She went on: “Through funding partners we support and help landowners and local people through advice on flood management; create features to store water; supply and install new woodland and hedges or provide guidance on river management and wildlife. We are also working in urban areas to reduce flooding in our towns, through addition of rain gardens and green roofs - Sustainable Urban Drainage Solutions.” So far they’ve talked to landowners over 1,500 hectares of the Ouse, planted nearly 10,000 trees, two km of new hedges and installed ways to channel flood water into better areas when the water is high.
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