A PILOT project is underway in Earby to test how natural solutions such as creating wetlands can be used to help reduce the risk of flooding along the River Aire.

The works at Marlfield Farm, home to the Proctor family, will also include hedge planting, fencing off corners of fields from grazing so that more vegetation can grow and installing leaky barriers to slow the flow of rainwater while also providing better habitat for local wildlife.

The Environment Agency is working with the River Stewardship Company to deliver this work by Christmas. It is hoped that this will be the first of many of these natural flood management (NFM) schemes in Earby. The Environment Agency is keen to work with any landowners in the area who are interested in getting involved.

This work is part of a wider flood risk programme which has been funded by Leeds City Council to work with nature to reduce flow of water from upstream so the landscape can hold more water in times of flood.

This is the first time that natural processes have been used to reduce flood risk in this way, and over such a large area. The wider Leeds NFM programme includes tree and hedge planting, re-channelling rivers to their natural courses, soil aeration, wetland creation and moorland restoration all of which have lots of benefits for people and wildlife.

Daniel Procter, together with his wife Heather and parents Howard and Lynda, own the farm located just outside Earby.

Mr Procter said: “We are pleased to support the trial. We’ve witnessed first-hand how quickly the river reacts to flash-flooding and hope that these measures will go some way to help reduce the flood risk in the village.”

Chris Milburn, project executive at the Environment Agency said: “As the country faces a national and global climate emergency, restoring our natural environment on a major scale like this is an important part of the toolkit to help reach net zero emissions in the future.”

“NFM offers huge potential for climate mitigation, for example, creating wetlands.”