|Gloucestershire County Councillor for the Greens,|
Sarah Lunnon next to a log pile on the Slad Brook
Deep in the upper reaches of the Slad Brook (in Stroud, Gloucestershire), among the remains of mills and leats, what can only be described as a revolution is taking place. Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems (RSuDS) have arrived in the Five Valleys - essentially a system of reducing flood risk by using natural processes to hold back flood water up-stream where it doesn't cause any problems.
After much lobbying and encouragement (and cross party support including from County Councillors) the Frome Catchment was selected as suitable for a pilot project by the Environment Agency in 2011 and work started along the Slad Brook and Painswick Stream in 2014. The pilot project is supported by the National Trust, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Gloucestershire County Council and Stroud District Council. It received its primary funding from a body called the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, which enabled a project officer to be employed.
If you take a stroll in the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's Snows Farm Reserve you may well spot, in many locations, what appears to be an untidy piles of logs across the brook. Look closely for metal pins holding the logs in place and you may notice that the stream runs freely underneath the logs (during normal flow). Struggle upstream when the brook is in spate and the flow will be held up at each leaky dam. Over time, as more and more structures are put in place, the protection provided downstream is increased.
RSuDS is no longer confined to the Slad and Painswick Valleys and structures have been put in place working with landowners across the Five Valleys. Working with nature rather than using hard engineering has the benefit of blending in with the landscape, being cost effective and providing wildlife habitat. Green County Councillor, Sarah Lunnon, continues to work in Stroud to extend the reach of this project - JPR is watching the project with interest.