Running through the dale from just south of Kidstones to its confluence with the River Ure just down from Aysgarth Falls, Bishopdale Beck can quickly overtop and cause flooding in heavy rain.
The main road through the dale, the B6160, can become impassable and result in local residents in villages, such as Kidstones and Newbiggin, being unable to access vital infrastructure including schools, doctors’ surgeries and shops.
But now a natural flood management (NFM) scheme aims to better protect the community in Bishopdale, which was chosen as one of three schemes in Yorkshire to benefit from an equal share of £501,000 of Government funding NFM initiatives.
Measures will be selected from a range of NFM interventions, including run-off management, using earth bunds and leaky wooden dams, peatland restoration, woodland creation, riparian buffer strips and management of floodplain grazing.
Simon Stokes, of the Environment Agency, said the scheme has been made possible by partner organisations coming together.
We look forward to working with the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the local community in delivering this project.
We hope that this project will really showcase partnership working and deliver a noticeable increase in resilience to flooding for the communities in the Bishopdale Beck catchment as well as improving the environment for both people and wildlife.
The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust has been working with landowners to create individual farm plans, something which the partner organisations say they are keen to do more of in the Dales.
Tarja Wilson, of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), said:
The idea is simple: farmers in the hills can take measures to slow down flood waters, both benefitting their businesses and lowering the risk of homes being flooded downstream.
In Bishopdale farmers are working collaboratively through the Wensleydale Facilitation Fund to consider how they can carry out natural flood management on their holdings.
Natural flood management isn’t a silver bullet which will solve flooding downstream, but it has multiple benefits for farmers, such as improving water quality and reducing flood risk. It can be a genuine win-win, for farmers and the wider community.
The scheme will be developed in close consultation with communities and landowners to ensure interventions complement existing agricultural businesses.
Local famer and landowner Robert Brown said:
It’s great to see investment in the uplands for natural flood management. Previous projects have been very successful and it’s good to see lots of local farmers and landowners getting involved.
Dan Turner, of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, said:
The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust is really looking forward to working in partnership with the YDNPA and EA on the Bishopdale natural flood management project.
We believe that this could be a real flagship project, delivering natural flood management on a catchment scale while also providing other benefits, such as wildlife, and reducing diffuse pollution.
We have been working closely with farmers in the catchment for many years, so it’s great to once again, work together to creating a more resilient catchment, that’s both profitable, sustainable and working with the natural environment.
The scheme will complement peatland restoration work delivered through Pennine PeatLIFE, an EU LIFE project co-funded by the Environment Agency and water companies.
The project delivery partners, the Yorkshire Peat Partnership, have been working with land owners in Bishopdale to restore upland blanket bog habitat in the area.
These habitats are vital for water storage, with healthy bogs storingg and holding more water and sediment.
The two other areas to get a share of the £501,000 Government funding announced in the 2016 autumn budget for natural flood management schemes in Yorkshire are Brompton Beck, near Northallerton, and Backstones Beck in Ilkley.
The funding was part of a national £15million NFM programme which, in addition to delivering flood risk reduction and environmental enhancements, aims to contribute to the growing evidence base for NFM.