Chapter 5 Taming the flood

Chapter 5 – Taming the flood

109-111. Chapter 5 begins with a description of the flooding that affected Somerset during early 2014. Figures relating to among other things the severity of the flooding estimated by the Environment Agency (slightly bigger numbers that I present) are can be found here: 

111-119. During April 2014 I visited the Pumlumon Project being run by the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust. My material is derived from that field visit, interviews with project staff and published sources, including this on-line material produced by the Trust: Click on the five minute video and hear from Clive Faulkner in person.

113. For more on the scale and nature of grassland improvements in the UK post 1945 see for example Blackstock, T.H., et al., (1999). The extent of semi-natural grassland communities in lowland England and Wales: a review of conservation surveys 1978–96. Grass and Forage Science, 54, pp.1–18.

Fuller, R.M. (1987) The changing extent and conservation interest of lowland grasslands in England and Wales – a review of grassland surveys 1930–84. Biological Conservation, 40, pp.281–300.

Green, B.H. (1990) Agricultural intensification and the loss of habitat, species and amenity in British grasslands: a review of historical change and assessment of future prospects. Grass and Forage Science, 45, pp.365–372. This source can be found on line at:

Ratcliffe, D.A. (1984) Post-medieval and recent changes in British vegetation: the culmination of human influence. New Phytologist, 98, pp. 73–100.

116. I mention the negative effects on dipper populations arising from acidification of their streams, exacerbated by conifer plantations. On the relationship between acidity and dippers see for example: Ormerod, S. J. et al., (1985). Is the breeding distribution of Dippers influenced by stream acidity? Bird Study. 32, 32-39. This  paper can be located on-line at:

117. The figures I use to describe the beneficial impact of the simple steps taken in the Pontbrean catchment that keep water on the land can be found in Marshall, M. R. et al., (2014). The impact of rural land management changes on soil hydraulic properties and runoff processes: results from experimental plots in upland UK. Hydrological Processes. Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 2617–2629, 15. This paper can he accessed on-line here:

This source contains more: Wheater, H.S., et al., (2008) Impacts of upland land management on flood risk: Multi-scale modelling methodology and results from the Pontbren experiment. Report: FRMRC Research Report UR 16.

118. Sources relating to the beneficial results achieved through the restoration of blanket bog on Exmoor can be found here:: and

119. For a source on the fact that 42 per cent of rivers are now separated from their floodplains, see: UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2011) The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Technical Report. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, pg. 332.
Scroll down the chapter contents and click on chapter 9.

120. The modelling study that I mention relating to the River Cherwell can be found in: River Cherwell Acreman, M.C., Booker, D.J. & Riddington, R., (2003). Hydrological impacts of floodplain restoration: a case study of the river Cherwell, UK. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 7:1 pp.75–86. That paper can be found on-line here:

121. I mention severe soil erosion near the village of Sampford Peverell in Devon. The Daily Mail carried a story and pictures on this.

122-124. Background on the Potteric Carr Reserve near Doncaster can be found here: and here:

125. The economic value provided by the Insh Marshes is explored in this paper: Alveres, B., et al. (2007) Insh Marshes: its hydrology, multiple uses and economic value. Report to RSPB Scotland.

125-128. More on the experimental beaver reintroduction at the Knapdale forest in Argyll can be found via these links: 

129. The study I mention on the reintroduction of beavers in England is: Gurnell, J. et al., (2008) The feasibility and acceptability of reintroducing the European beaver to England. Report prepared for:
Natural England and the People‟s Trust for Endangered Species. This report can be downloaded via:

129. I cite the example of Belford in Northumberland where the Environment Agency has worked with local people to reduce flood risk by mimicking beaver activity. A little more on that can be found at:

129. For a summary on the wider value provided by wild beavers see: Campbell, R. et al., (2007). Economic impacts of the beaver. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford. You can click through to this source at:

130. I discuss the impacts of the 1953 coastal flooding along the east coast of Britain. More on that can be seen here: Baxter, P. J., The east coast Big Flood, 31 January–1 February 1953: a summary of the human disaster, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (2005) 363:1831 pp.1293-1312.

This Met Office report is interesting on that as well. Published to mark the 60th anniversary of the flood, it describes the event as Britain’s worst ever peacetime disaster.

132. I report the comments of John Badley and his work to restore coastal marshes in Lincolnshire. You can find more about that work in Badley J. and Allcorn R.I., (2006). Changes in bird use following the managed realignment at Freiston Shore RSPB Reserve, Lincolnshire, England. Conservation Evidence 3, 132-133. 

132-133. See also Friess et al., (2008). Managed Realignment and the Re- establishment of saltmarsh habitat, Freiston Shore, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.  This case study was included in The Role of Environmental Management and Eco-Engineering in Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. You can see it here:

134. More on the death toll arising from the exceptional heatwave of 2003 can be found here:

134. On the 2011-2012 drought more information can be found here:

134. Data that puts the exceptional rainfall of 2012 into an historic perspective can be found in this Met Office material

135. On the exceptional rains of the winter of 2013-14 I mention a report from the Met Office. It was at the launch of this report where the Met Office Chief Scientist said there was a link with climate change.

137. On the granting of permission to build in floodplains against the advice of the Environment Agency, then see this piece:

137. On the scrapping of the obligation on local authorities to prepare climate change adaptation plans:

138. On the cost of peatland restoration on Exmoor see: