Storm Christoph: Call to 'open flood defences slowly'

image copyrightPA Media
image captionManchester experienced snow, rain and flooding during Storm Christoph

Volunteers at a park where the RSPB founder lived have called for better environmental management after floods.

Benches were knocked over by rushing water at Fletcher Moss Park, which includes flood basins for south Manchester, during Storm Christoph.

The park's group called on the Environment Agency to "open flood gates more slowly so the water doesn't come as a huge wave".

An Environment Agency spokesperson said it was "seeking to learn any lessons".

"We really value reports from community groups [...] because they help us understand the wider impacts of flooding and what can be done to protect communities better in the future".

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image captionPrime Minister Boris Johnson visited the River Mersey basin in Manchester on Thursday

On Wednesday, thousands of residents had to evacuate homes in Manchester, which narrowly escaped flooding as river levels nearly breached defences.

Moira Sykes, secretary of Friends of Fletcher Moss Park and Parsonage Gardens, said: "We would like [the Environment Agency] to be looking upriver to the Goyt and the Tame and what can be done to keep water there - being able to drain into the land and not come down as far as Manchester, where it becomes very drastic, with damage to the park, sports club and the threat of flooding for people in their homes.

"I've been with the Friends for seven or eight years, and last year was the first time I had seen it flooded and this is much worse."

After about a month's worth of rain fell in 48 hours, the EA said on Thursday that flood basins in south Manchester came "very close" to being overwhelmed, adding "our defences there have served their purpose and kept properties dry".

Ms Sykes said: "It did work but we want the Environment Agency to be aware of the damage it's doing."

image captionRSPB founder Emily Williamson and her husband developed the park's alpine garden

Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury has been a popular recreational spot where many locals have donated benches and plants in memory of deceased relatives.

Ms Sykes said some of the new planting may have been damaged although most trees are expected to survive.

The park's alpine garden will be temporarily closed to visitors as workers deal with the aftermath of the flooding.

It was planted by RSPB founder Emily Williamson and her husband, when they lived in the area in the late 1800s.

From their home - now the park's visitor centre - she set up the then Society for the Protection of Birds in 1889, which later developed into the UK's largest nature conservation charity.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionFletcher Moss Park also hosts sport pitches

The surrounding area was gifted by its owner Fletcher Moss to the City of Manchester in 1915.

Sports clubs also use the area for matches, including Fletcher Moss Rangers, where many Manchester United players, including Marcus Rashford, played as youngsters.

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