Slowing the flow in the Dacre Beck

In the area of the Dacre Beck near Penrith Eden Rivers Trust is working with farmers on an innovative project to investigate ways of reducing the risk of flooding.

The aim of the project is to trial different ways of slowing the flow of water off farm land, without having a negative effect on farm businesses, to see if it can reduce flooding downstream.

The project started with the Trust running a series of five evening workshops on ways to manage the land to benefit the river and the farm.  These were attended by 30 different farmers from the area.

Following the workshops the farmers came up with their own ideas for their farms and discussed them with the Trust.  Now a total of 11 farms have plans for a whole range of farm improvements.

An example of the work planned includes collecting rain water from farm buildings and using it around the farm.  This saves the farmer money if they are on a water meter whilst temporarily storing the water and slowing its journey to the river. 

Grassland aeratorUsing a grassland aerator is another part of the project.  This reduces soil compaction, improves soil structure and slows the flow of water across the land.  It can also improve grassland yields and reduce fertiliser requirements. 

Other examples from the farmers include creating ponds and grassland buffer strips, re-meandering drainage channels, improving cow tracks and diverting run-off through buffer areas of grass or woodland.  Over 10,000 trees will be planted along the river and as shelter belts, and three kilometres of new hedgerow will be created.  All these measures will help to store water and slow its movement whilst also trapping manure and sediment. 

In addition over six km of riverside fencing will be completed to improve the river for wildlife.  Large woody debris will be introduced in to the river at a small number of locations to prevent erosion and provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Mark Potter, Ullcat Row Hall, Matterdale, said, “The project has been good for the farm.  The workshops gave us new ideas and the planned shelter belts and hedgerows will be of great benefit”.

All the projects have been a partnership between the farmers and the Trust with both contributing time and money.  The Trust has contributed £100,000 towards the costs of these projects and the funding has come from the European Union under a project called “Adaptive Land use for Flood Alleviation” (ALFA). 

Tom Dawson, Habitats Officer at the Trust, said, “The farmers themselves are delighted to have the opportunity to make their farms more environmentally friendly, whilst increasing the wildlife and aesthetic value for future generations.”

If you would like to learn more about the work of Eden Rivers Trust, you can visit www.edenriverstrust.org.uk.  Alternatively, email office@edenriverstrust.org.uk or telephone the office, which is at Newton Rigg College, Penrith, on tel. no. 01768 866788.