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Chesterfield event marks completion of natural flood management project ‘slowing the flow to the Calow’

A £275,000 project to reduce flood risk in Chesterfield using innovative natural flood defences has completed

An innovative new flood management project designed to reduce flood risk in Chesterfield through natural defences, while boosting local wildlife and habitats, has been completed at Grassmoor Country Park.

The £275,000 scheme, designed to slow the flow of rainwater heading from land to the Calow Brook – and onwards into the Rover Rother includes the creation of temporary and semi-permanent ponds, marshy grasslands and wet woodland – all acting as a natural flood defence while improving and diversifying the habitats for wildlife within the park.

Funded by the Environment Agency and the Heritage Fund, the project was developed in partnership with Derbyshire County Council which owns and maintains the park, the Environment Agency, the Friends of Grassmoor and Don Catchment Rivers Trust.

Natural Flood Management schemes such as this are a sustainable way of using nature to manage flood risk. The work done at Grassmoor will also work to increase the availability of water within the landscape during times of drought, providing vital lifelines for wildlife and plant life, the need for which has been made abundantly clear last summer.

Its successful completion was marked with an event at Grassmoor Park on Wednesday 15 March, attended by Councillor Carolyn Renwick, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Environment at Derbyshire County Council, along with representatives at partner organisations.

Members of the public were also welcomed with a site tour showcasing the new green spaces, habitat improvements, and natural flood management techniques.

Anthony Downing, Catchment Coordinator in the Environment Programme team at the Environment Agency, said:

This scheme is a shining example of the huge benefits of using nature to manage flood risk – and at the same time creating new habitats for wildlife to thrive and spaces that people can enjoy.

We are facing a climate emergency and are determined to ensure we work with nature to be resilient and adapt. This project has been a great collaboration effort and certainly something we want to see more of in this area.

Councillor Carolyn Renwick, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Environment, said:

This is a great project which has improved the park for the benefit of visitors and wildlife. As well as reducing the risk of flooding to local communities, it will improve biodiversity by establishing new habitats which will help absorb carbon from the atmosphere in line with our work to help tackle climate change.

Peter Myers, Project Coordinator at Friends of Grassmoor Country Park, said:

We are very proud to have played our part in supporting and working closely with Don Catchment Rivers Trust and Derbyshire County Council to deliver this scheme from the very early stages through to its successful outcome.

The natural flood management measures are of course the key elements, but we are also very grateful for the inclusion of the significant wildlife habitat features, improvements and the environmental benefits that the scheme brings to our park. We look forward to the continued co-operation to see these elements develop and flourish in the coming years.

On behalf of present and future generations who will benefit from this investment, thank you to all who have made this possible.

Rachel Walker, Operations Director at Don Catchment Rivers Trust, said:

The main works were finished last October and the features have been working well over winter, holding water and slowly releasing it back into the Calow Brook. We’re really looking forward to seeing the meadows grow and the features blend into the park over spring and summer. Our thanks to all the volunteers who have joined in to help sow seeds, plant trees, and monitor the site – we will be continuing with the citizen science programme to chart the changes in the park over the coming years.

Volunteers have been an invaluable asset to the scheme which has included lots of local community involvement such as sowing meadow seeds and helping to plant trees. Opportunities to volunteer for the project are still available with dates in April for sowing and planting. A full calendar of events can be found on the Don Catchment Rivers Trust website.

For more information about the project, visit the Slow the flow to the Calow page.

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