Whinlatter Forest dam project to combat floods

image copyrightWest Cumbria Rivers Trust
image captionThe dams are set to hold back water when beck levels are high during storms then drain gradually afterwards, reducing peak river levels downstream

Work on a natural flood management project at Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria is under way.

More than 200 dams are being installed by West Cumbria Rivers Trust in Aiken Beck, Whinlatter Gill and various tributaries and forest ditches.

The project aims to slow the flow of water towards Lorton and the River Cocker, using logs and tree trunks from the forest to create the dams.

The trust said the measures would help reduce peak river levels downstream.

The dams are designed to hold back water when beck levels are high during storms then drain gradually afterwards.

Annabelle Kennedy, project officer at the trust, said: "This work is an important part of our River Cocker natural flood management and catchment restoration project.

"The new features also provide a range of wildlife habitat benefits. Installing wood in watercourses provides more diverse habitat, and reconnecting floodplains improves our wetland habitats."

In the summer, embankments will be removed from the sides of Whinlatter Gill to restore the natural floodplain and keep water in the area for longer after storms, the trust says.

'Make a difference'

The project is in partnership with Forestry England and the Environment Agency.

Lorton resident and Melbreak Communities group member Derek Poate said: "Lorton suffered flooding in 2005, 2009 and 2015, and as a community we've been working with West Cumbria Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency on future river management.

"It takes a lot of natural flood management features across a whole catchment to make a difference downstream and it's great to see the various works in our area taking shape."

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