100 homes on the Holnicote estate in Somerset are now protected by a radical landscape experiment that passed its first severe test during the recent weeks of extreme weather. Reversing centuries of efforts to drain land, dredge rivers and rush water to the sea, banks have been built to deliberately flood fields. Historic water meadows and silted-up ponds have been re-established, while old ditches and tracks have been dammed and new woods planted.
“It’s all about slowing up the water,” says Nigel Hester, who managed the project (pdf) on the National Trust’s 12,500-acre Holnicote estate which runs from the high moors of Exmoor to the flat, narrow coastal plain on which Bossington sits. “With the amount of rain we had, I was amazed no one got flooded. We must have held just enough back.”
He says the project is going back to nature, restoring the natural function of rivers. “It was all about control in the past, getting rid of the water as quick as possible. But that just moved the problem downstream.”
Read the full article in The Guardian.