The opening of the Mill Farm “Natural Flood Prevention” wetland scheme was attended on the 18th May on behalf of the Kent Tree and Pond Wardens. This is a highly innovative and extremely exciting project, arising from very close co-operation between the landowner and many different agencies, working through the Kent County Council and the Environment Agency.
This is a farm scheme, sited between the rivers Teise and Beult, near Marden, designed to reduce (not eliminate) flood risk. It is a deep, relatively long and narrow, water feature carefully dug and sited to fill when local watercourse levels rise to “flood risk” level, thus threatening local villages, and then to empty gradually in a safe manner, largely into the River Beult, over the next few days/weeks. It is fulfilling the function that fields in a traditional flood plain would have done over winter periods in the past, but using a much smaller area of land, preventing damage to modern winter crops and local orchards.
This particular scheme also reduces silt input from flood waters into the Beult SSSI, a major biodiversity benefit for this highly sensitive catchment. Once the wetland is seeded and planted it is also likely to become an impressive biodiversity feature on its own account, including improving habitat for birds such as nightingales and turtle doves.
This is a ground-breaking pilot project in all senses, and other projects will hopefully follow in Kent, perhaps signalling part of the way forward for flood risk reduction in Kent – I am sure we all remember the floods in areas such as Yalding and Collier Street in the winter of 2013/2014.
If anyone, particular Pond Wardens, know of possible locations in Kent where other such schemes might work, it would be very interesting to discuss them further. In the longer term, funding may possibly be available for this type of scheme or others that might fit this purpose? Pond Wardens are individuals who may be in pole position to see opportunities such as these in their local areas to benefit their local communities as well as significantly improving their local natural environments. These are potentially very exciting opportunities!