£140,000 for Durham flood defence trials

New forms of flood defences will be trialled in County Durham under a government scheme.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 2:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 2:59 pm
Flood defence trials are being funded under a new Government scheme

Ministers are sinking £150million into a programme of pilot schemes nationally, which also includes five other test initiatives in the North East.

In Durham small businesses are set to be invited to showcase their own ‘innovative solutions’ to drainage issues blighting the region and the rest of the country.

“The project invites members of the flooding industry to test their technology in the South Stanley and Craghead area, in order to make the most of new and emerging technologies,” said Paul Watson, Durham County Council’s interim strategic highways manager.

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“We will be evaluating whether new technology can be used as an alternative to the more traditional heavy engineered flood schemes.

“As well as reducing flood risk, the project will bring immediate environmental, social, and community benefits across the study area, as well as commercial and other investment opportunities.”

In all, 25 schemes across England are in line for a share of the £150 million on offer from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’s (DEFRA) Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme.

Funding allocations are yet to be finalised for some projects, although Durham is believed to be in line for about £40,000.

The county’s brief is to develop, install and monitor new drainage systems, such as ‘raingardens, smart butts and street trees’.

Other projects in the announcement included:

:: Restoration of sub-tidal habitats, such as kelp beds, oyster reefs and sea grass, in South Tyneside to protect against coastal erosion and flooding

:: A flood warning system for rural communities in Northumberland, using artificial intelligence and new sensor technology

:: A ‘habitat bank’ in Stockton-on-Tees to attract private investment, as well as restoration of habitats such as mudflats and saltmarshes

:: A trial ‘groundwater flood warning’ service in Gateshead, which could later be used in other former mining areas

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, which will manage the programme, said: “The innovation programme is extremely exciting as it begins to put new aspects of the national flood and coastal erosion risk strategy to the test.

“What we learn will inform our approach to the climate crisis in the coming decades.”

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