I’m excited to announce that we have been awarded more than £6 million from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to unlock innovative and nature-based solutions in the River Frome catchment area to make homes, businesses and jobs more resilient to flooding in the future.
We’ve been working in partnership with South Gloucestershire Council, Wessex Water, and the Environment Agency since January 2021 to develop six projects that will deliver sustainable solutions to land and water management, improve flood resilience, respond to climate change and bring a range of benefits to communities in the River Frome catchment area.
The River Frome starts in Dodington Park, South Gloucestershire, and flows for 20 miles through rural countryside and urbanised environments to Bristol where it joins the River Avon and the floating harbour. Some of the proposed improvements to the river catchment will be localised in the city, but because we will be working across the whole catchment, the project will bring multiple benefits to multiple locations.
This project, under the new name “Resilient Frome”, is a fantastic opportunity to work collaboratively with partners beyond Bristol’s borders on a ‘whole-systems approach’ to tackle flood risk management and biodiversity – issues that are not limited just to Bristol. By working together, we can improve the entire catchment area at the same time as creating multiple benefits for Bristol’s residents and businesses.
Six distinct project areas will be worked on over the next five years, from 2022 to 2027, as part of the Resilient Frome project. These include:
- Sustainable land management practices, such as the creation of new ‘storage’ ponds and woody dams in rural upstream areas of South Gloucestershire, to improve water quality and ecology as well as help to reduce flood risk. Nature-based solutions used to reduce the impact of flooding will not only help communities be more resilient to future climate change they will also benefit wildlife and water quality and improve the urban environment.
- Installing flow monitors that will allow us to understand how much water is coming down the river and into the floating harbour. Flow monitors at three key locations will go in during summer 2023 at Wade Street where the river disappears under Cabot Circus, Broadweir near the Galleries, and Netham Lock, to help us better understand the risk of flooding in the city centre when water is not able to be discharged from the floating harbour.
- Exploring the challenge of meeting important national planning policy requirements, ensuring new development is safe and adaptable to climate change risks. We are investigating innovative ways to regenerate brownfield land to deliver much needed housing and new community spaces in areas at risk of flooding. This work will seek to ensure new development is safe in respect of flood risk and resilient to climate change.
- Restoration of the river as part of the Frome Gateway regeneration project the restoration will be a key component of the emerging development framework, building on community engagement and what local people would like to see. We will continue to work closely with the local community and businesses to ensure the river restoration project aligns with the Frome Gateway regeneration project, to put the river at the heart of a transformed area with new homes, jobs, and public spaces.
- Retro fitting Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs) to enable better management of rainwater to prevent surface water and sewer flooding and overflow discharges. SUDs provide storm water storage to reduce surface water flooding and improve water quality, as well as transforming local public spaces by introducing green infrastructure and improving biodiversity in more urban areas.
- Bringing funding from businesses and land managers together to find environmental solutions that deliver multiple positive outcomes within the catchment area.
Resilient Frome is vital to supporting our ambitions to create a more resilient city and protect our densely populated urban areas. The Frome catchment is largely rural, but the water all flows downstream and meets in the city centre, so it is crucial we take a whole system approach and work across boundaries. The six project areas will help us to protect areas in the city currently at risk of flooding and will also enable us to regenerate brownfield city centre land to safely build housing and new community spaces in the future.
The Resilient Frome project is funded by Defra as part of the £200 million Flood and Coastal Innovation Programmes, which is managed by the Environment Agency. The programmes will drive innovation in flood and coastal resilience and adaptation to a changing climate.