Wetlands to be used to stop catastrophic flooding in Harrow and Barnet

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Harrow and Barnet councils have been approved to build wetlands, restore stretches of river and form areas of natural drainage in a £6million plan to stop flooding in the area.

Wetlands to be used to stop catastrophic flooding in Harrow and Barnet
© Oli Back Silk Stream along the border of Harrow and Barnet

The funding has been secured in North-West London as part of the Silk Stream Flood and Resilience Innovation project to prevent more than 1,000 homes at risk of regular flooding.

Harrow and Barnet in North-West London, areas surrounding the Silk Stream, have been chosen from 79 applicants from across England to alleviate the flooding issues as part of the Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation programme.

The scheme aims to push the nature-based and sustainable scheme as an alternative to traditional concrete flood defences, the issue being brought into sharper focus as Cop26 in Glasgow is set later this month.

Natural flood management plans include temporary storage by creating storage ponds, increasing channel roughness by planting trees and hedgerows, changing agricultural practices to improve soil structure and increase water draining into the ground and slowing down tributaries that flow into the silk stream.

The project, running until 2027, will tackle the flooding issues which have heightened over the years due to climate change and more homes being built in the area.

Harrow has seen serious flooding issues in the past, resulting in closed Tfl tube stations and people reportedly rescued from cars.

Flash floods from the capital affected the region in 2016 following torrential rain and again in 2019 across North Harrow, Ruislip and Kenton Road.

Wetlands to be used to stop catastrophic flooding in Harrow and Barnet
© Provided by Evening Standard A car submerged outside North Harrow station (Twitter / @MPSHarrow)

The same floods in 2016 affected other areas in South London, with Wallington being the most serious of nearly 200 calls to emergency services.

The government announced a £200million fund for this programme in 2020.

The programme will allocate £150million of this total to 25 local areas, including Harrow and Barnet, as part of a wider plan promising £6million to each area to create new flood and coastal defences across the country.

Thames21 charity said the project focuses on flood resilience. “Thames21 will be working on nature-based solutions to reduce flood risk.

“We aim to build new wetlands, restore stretches of river and create new areas of natural drainage to increase flood resilience as well as create a host of other benefits, including improved water quality, beautiful public spaces that will boost health and wellbeing and much needed habitat for wildlife.”

Defences will include the use of sustainable drainage systems such as ‘rain gardens’ which will collect the excess run-off of water from roads and decrease the flow of water into sewage drains.

Harrow Council is currently working with the community and business owners to best assess their needs and concerns regarding the project.

Councillor Varsha Parmar said: Over the years residents have seen increasing and serious surface water and sewer flooding issues around this area and along with partners and community groups we are thrilled to have been awarded the funds to carry this project out.

“Not only will this scheme take decisive action to prevent flooding, it will also help to combat climate change by adopting nature-based and sustainable solutions.

“We are very keen to hear from residents via the consultation survey and will take their views into account during the initial stages of this project.”

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