National Highways Little Don NFM Fund Pilot Project

Partners:National Highways, Atkins, Chloe Palmer, local landowners
Key outcomesNatural Flood Management
Local watercourseLittle Don, Spring Brook, Small Clough, Jenkin Clough

The National Highways funded Little Don NFM Fund Pilot Project is now well underway. The Don Catchment Rivers Trust was one of two Rivers Trusts nationally appointed to work in partnership with National Highways, Atkins, Chloe Palmer and seven landowners to co-deliver this project.

Graphic showing NFM measures in the landscape

The purpose of the project is to explore how National Highways can work with farmers and landowners to implement NFM measures to reduce flood risk on sections of the A-roads and motorways known to be particularly vulnerable to flooding. The project is working to test whether these measures could be an alternative, or complementary solution, to the construction of traditional concrete-based flood management measures within the boundary of the strategic road network.

The project ran as an online auction whereby landowners made bids (on the online reverse auction platform NatureBid) to plan, implement and maintain NFM measures available through the Fund.

Phase one (scoping) of the project was undertaken by National Highways, Atkins and the Sylva Foundation. It included developing the fund, supporting information and bidding platform.

The smart catchment-based approach is underpinned by digital tools and technologies that have focused the project in a small area of the Little Don catchment immediately upstream from the A616 ‘flood hotspot’ on the strategic road network.

In total, seven participating landowners are now implementing eight different NFM measure types across the 5.3 square kilometre focus area which encompasses the steep hillside uphill from the A616 highway, between Underbank and Langsett Reservoirs.

Measures include reduced soil compaction by soil aeration, mixed species herbal leys, cross-slope woodland and hedgerows, flow pathway bunds, online storage ponds, in-channel leaky barriers, headwater woody bundles and landowner innovation.

Leaky barriers within channels after construction
Soil aeration is being carried out across over 100 hectares of grassland.
A flow pathway bund and ditch in progress.
Cross-slope hedge planting
A recently constructed in channel leaky barrier.

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