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Congratulations to the Watercourse Clearing Team who won the Environmental Community of the Year in the Nottingham Post 2014 Environmental Awards at a ceremony on 12th November at the Belfry Hotel.

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.

However, Southwell Flood Forum was encouraged to enter the 2014 Nottingham Post Environment Awards and were thrilled to win the trophy.


L to R Stephen Lee EDF Energy, Katy Todd, Stewart Todd, Beryl Prentice

The Watercourse Clearing Team were 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.

Leslie Gudalajtvs, Business Manager for EDF Energy was proud to sponsor the Environmental Community of the Year Award and “to know that such an amazing group of people had achieved so much for the Environment.”

When others may have left the task of clearing up to someone else, Southwell’s community spirit took over and did the job efficiently and effectively.  The award is truly for all the volunteers who put in thousands of hours, in all weathers, throughout last winter, together with the cake bakers and coffee makers who kept the working parties going.

Chairman, Rob Jordan thanked everyone who did so much, “it is great to be recognised with this award. It can only help our cause, along with all the other activities the Forum is engaged in, to make Southwell flood resilient”.

Southwell Flood Forum Watercourse Clearing Team’s submission for the Nottingham Post Environmental Group of the Year 2014

The 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 also 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”.
Katy Todd