Making a difference where you live

Managing our environment in harmony with nature

Climate change is bringing increased rainfall to the UK, including more frequent periods of intense and heavy rain that can cause serious flooding and damage to property.

Working with the Environment Agency, Sussex Flow Initiative, Ouse and Adur River Trust , National Trust and landowners along the Ouse and its tributaries, has enabled the Ouse to be reconnected at many locations to its flood plain.

One practical method has been the building of numerous leaky dams across the catchment, including Chailey Common, Plashett Wood near Isfield, Hoath Wood above Newhaven, and West Wood near Wivelsfield.

Leaky dams are a natural flood management method that involve positioning branches and twigs across channels and flow paths to help slow the flow and hold water in the landscape, and then draining the water when flood flows have passed.

We are also implementing a range of other practical interventions that make space for water in the Ouse catchment. In doing so we are reducing the risk of flooding, increasing biodiversity, improving water quality and helping to make our district climate resilient.

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The Sussex Flow Initiative has recently published a fantastic five-year review report. The report showcases the great natural flood management work that Sussex Flow Initiative has delivered and the benefits of this across the district. Lewes District Council has provided funding support to the Sussex Flow Initiative for the delivery of these superb projects.

Julie Carr

Councillor Julie Carr, Cabinet Member for Recycling, Waste and Open Spaces, said:

“Working with nature rather than against it is central to how we will encourage greater biodiversity and live more sustainably. The work we are doing with our partners to address flood risks and other impacts of climate change are great examples of that ethos and I’m delighted so many areas in the district are benefitting.”

There is more information about the leaky dams in this Sussex Flow Initiative and South Downs National Park Authority guide.

Other interventions have been the planting of many thousands of tree and kilometres of hedgerow, both of which absorb water and slow the movement of water as well as storing carbon and improving biodiversity.

For more information on Sussex Flow Initiative please visit www.sussexflowinitiative.org

The Ouse was canalised in the late 18th century, making it easier to navigate but increasing its ability to cause flooding.

Working with the Environment Agency, Sussex Flow Initiative, Ouse and Adur River Trust , National Trust and landowners along the Ouse and its tributaries has enabled the Ouse to be reconnected at many location to its flood plain.

To see this work in action you can make a fascinating trip to Sheffield Park  – for information please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden/features/river-ouse-at-sheffield-park