We’ll be sitting on the edge of our chairs waiting for the announcement of winners of the Nottingham Post Environment Awards at the ceremony on Wednesday 12th November at Nottingham Belfry Hotel
Southwell Flood Forum was encouraged to enter the 2014 Nottingham Post Environment Awards and we are thrilled to have been shortlisted in the Environmental Community of the Year category – “Recognising the achievements of a group which has improved its local environment in Nottinghamshire.”
In September 2013 Katy Todd had entered the Watercourse Clearing Team into the Nottingham Post Environment Awards. As the group had only been working a few months it was hardly surprising that we were unsuccessful.
The Watercourse Clearing Team will be represented by Stewart Todd who meticulously plotted the Potwell Dyke and its riparian ownership, Beryl Prentice from the Town Council who has supported the work of the volunteers and Katy Todd who made the submission on behalf of Liz Walker and the team of volunteers who have done so much to improve our environment and make our watercourses better fit for purpose. A short slideshow of the watercourse clearance work has been made for the awards ceremony.
Southwell Flood Forum Watercourse Clearing Team’s submission for the Nottingham Post Environmental Group of the Year 2014
Potwell Dyke burst its banks inundating homes and businesses in the flood of 23rd July 2013. Decades of neglect meant that in extreme rainfall the dyke was unable to perform effectively. A hundred volunteers turned out twice weekly to clear around three kilometres of the watercourse. Tonnes of wood, domestic and industrial rubbish including a boiler, bicycles and furniture were taken away. The banks and surrounding areas were tidied and loose branches were used to create “debris dens” a safe distance from where flood waters wouldn’t carry them away to create blockages. We worked with the support of 90 riparian owners whose land borders the dyke and were able to offer help to those unable to manage the task they faced in dealing with their own stretch of dyke after the flood.
The local authorities provided equipment and training. Guidance was sought from Nottingham Trent University Rural and Environmental Sciences department, Brackenhurst Campus, Trent Valley Internal Drainage Board, Environment Agency and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. Care was taken to work carefully with wildlife, and invasive species were noted and dealt with appropriately. The project was completed, ahead of the nesting season and in time for the summer storms and possible flash floods.
The result is not only a watercourse that is better fit for purpose to drain flood waters, the natural environment has had a much needed spring clean. To complete the project native blue- bells and snowdrops, donated by a local farmer, have been planted beside the dyke.
Residents have been made aware of the need to care for our watercourses and now keep an eye on wildlife, rubbish and potential blockages. Sadly by the start of the grass-cutting season the practice of dumping garden waste resumed. Effective reporting means that the Southwell Town Council is now able to deal with this promptly. This summer the dyke performed satisfactorily when it was tested on several occasions in heavy rain. The Southwell Flood Forum volunteers have been recognised in a special mention by the judges in the 2014 East Midlands in Bloom, when Southwell received a Silver award for “taking on such a complex project”.