Project outcomes and beyond

Specific outcomes

  • The main outcome is the evidence based of NFM interventions in the Lustrum Beck catchment. For example, the increase of wet areas in the catchment is an excellent achievement: the target of 30 hectares will be surpassed with two additional hectares.
  • Farmers will receive a report with a business model of their farm and on what they can do to improve in terms of water management.

Process results

  • Another big outcome is that trust can be a driver of change/ to engage with local communities. It is absolutely necessary to promote conversations between stakeholders when you go on this long journey together. You can only do this when there is trust between all parties and this is brought about through delivery of successful delivery of measures and communication.
  • Awareness raising and understanding of local communities as well as capacity building has been major output as well.

In the video below, the lessons learnt and outcomes of this pilot are summarized:

Flood risk management strategies (FRMSs)

In Stockton there have been some ‘traditional’ hard engineering measures implemented at a road bridge.The table below shows the FRM strategies that were considered before, during and after FRAMES in the Lustrum Beck pilot.

Layers of MLS Before FRAMES During FRAMES After FRAMES
1 Flood protection Flood Alleviation Scheme (completed in 2017 –comprised new and improved defences through Stockton (town) and replacement of assets), also the lead in building community resilience. Natural flood management (NFM) Defences maintained by the Environment Agency
2 Spatial adaptation Major works recently completed on addressing an historic flooding poinch point in Stockton on Tees. This is being complimented by softer measures and SUDS as well as Nortumbrian Water’s Rainwise scheme (Baseline monitor, 2017). 32 ha of water dependent habitat is already  created (interview with pilot manager, 2019);  a series of offline flood storage areas created in forestry land; 15 farms will have received farm advice to improve water retention on lower value parcels of land and reduce agricultural run-off; area will be investigated for woodland creation opportunities; Rainwise scheme to implement small SUDS schemes at a household scale (Baseline monitor, 2017) Provide evidence based of the NFM intervention in the Lustrum Beck catchment so similar projects can be implemented in other catchments 
3 Preparedness and response The Environment Agency led a series of community consultations ahead of the flood management works in Stockton. Nothing had happened with the farming community ahead of the project. Awareness raising and understanding of local communities as well as capacity building has been major output. Maybe organize farm open days or farmers talks with groups from other part of the country (interview with pilot manager, 2019). The

Environment Agency community flood resilience officer will strengthen capacity of community and business to react to flooding through better coordinated action plan and contact with appropriate emergency services personnel and council emergency flooding teams. Moreover, modelling of upper catchment incorporating new measures will give earlier warnings of flood events (Baseline monitor, 2017).

Provide farmers with a report on their business plan so they can based their future plans considering water management in their farm (interview with pilot manager, 2019).

Subsequent to this FRAMES pilot, Lustrum Beck has been identified as a priority by Northumbrian Water as a catchment in which to pilot ‘fair share’ scheme to reduce phosphate in water and therefore cost to company in treatment of domestic sewage.  Tees River Trust is working with the company using its outputs from this FRAMES pilot.

4 Resilient recovery Stockton Council led on co-ordinating emergency service response to flooding A community flood plan will identify actions needed for quicker recovery and help to co-ordinate the movements of people and agencies (Baseline monitor, 2017). Environment Agency community flood co-ordinator team has worked with at risk communities and helped develop a stronger response to flood prevention and recovery. The community should ultimately take ownership of this. The Trust is now attending Tees Local Flood Strategy meetings as a result of FRAMES to develop this approach in other catchments as well.

Lessons learnt

Applying MLS technique: This approach was useful to apply because increased communication with other actors in the catchment. Moreover, all together can jointly plan what to do and what to reduce flooding in the catchment. However, patience and time are required to get the understanding and permissions of landowners and other actors involved (interview with pilot manager, 2019)

Methods / techniques to learn about impact on systems: Modelling was used to determine the flood risk of the area.  The flood risk maps were combined with visual observations to selected the areas for the to NFM interventions (interview with pilot manager, 2019)

 Methods / techniques community involvement: FRAMES facilitates coordination and communication among local individual organisations, business and local land owners (Baseline monitor, 2017). Farms in the pilot area were visited, and together with the farmer, opportunities were identified improvements in the farm (for instance where gutters on roofs could be improved) and where to implement NFM measures. Farmers are motivated and engaged with economic incentives of improving his business based on the business model outputs (interview with pilot manager, 2019).

Main uncertainties and challenges encountered

  • A challenge was that farmers didn't trust the organisations that were approaching them. Farmers in the catchment are wary of allowing public near farmsteads due to high incidences of theft in the area.
  • Being a small organisation without  a long track record in flood management, it has been hard for the Trust to make a dent on the traditional ways that flooding is dealt with, i.e. top down management from authorities and engineers. However, our strong track record of success working with farmers gave us a footing to bring a new dynamic to the conversation.
  • It was a struggle for the Tees River Trust (charity organisation without legal obligation) to engage stakeholders at a strategic level because everybody has their own view on what should be done: local authorities plan flooding and get taxes paid, EA has the responsibility to protect lives and properties from flooding. As a small organization without legal power, it is difficult to be taken seriously. We have found that this has been best dealt with by delivering results on the ground and proving that when multiple layers
  • Perceptions of stakeholders; a culture of community dependence and top-down management is hard to change – by paying taxes, people expect to be protected and do not take on a more active role. It is a struggle to change the culture of people, especially elders who are used to practice agriculture in their way. The National Flood Forum is empowering communities to protect themselves, from flooding and recovery. But this also sets bad blood: people get angry because now they have to take care of themselves instead of being taken care off. The role of farmers  is also changing from food providers to providing other, life-saving benefits as well. However, uncertainty over changes in the farming policy in light of Brexit have been cited by numerous farms as reasons for not getting involved in this project as people seem to be either biding their time to see what will happen or just want to carry on as they have without taking any risks or changing direction in management of the land.
  • Lack of funding in the future for agriculture and environmental interventions.  This is exacerbated by ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
  • One big issue is what will happen once this project is finished – how do we get the momentum going?  This could be realized through changes to UK ag policy and farms getting apid to provide ecosystem services such as clean air and water and reducing flood risk as well as initiatives such as Northumbria Water’ fairshare scheme.
  • The lack of dealing with climate change and extreme weather events in a holistic way at  catchment level. Traditionally, problems are solved locally by engineers building a pipe and putting the rest of the problem under a carpet. Farmers are often ignored in doing the environment planning.
  • Missed the legacy of having the National Flood Forum on board of the project  because  the Environment Agency and Stockton Council showed a strong opposition. This is a clear example of an NGO trying to work in an area that traditionally it’s been seen as government delivery or as a government affiliated body. They are incredible good in engaging the community and making sure that changes will happen in the community will get charge of their own. Thus, at the end, it’s the local community who suffer the consequences.
  • Overall, the drivers of change are fund

ing, partners about c

limate change, and the of culture of community dependency, for years of top down management, communities pay a tax, you sort out the flooding.

Dissemination and up-scaling of pilot results

The hope of the Tees River Trust is that similar projects will be developed in other catchments as well. We have drawn together a group of farmers in the neighboring Leven and Skelton Beck Catchments and applied for funding to coordinate open days and meetings investigating opportunities for valuing and developing ecosystem service provision.

In addition to this The Trust has been asked by the Tees Valley Strategic Flood Group to attend their meetings as of November 2019 as a result of the Lustrum Pilot. This is a promising area, because of the pilot has clearly demonstrated that there are opportunities for whole catchment work to reduce the risk that have been recognized and an apparent will to investigate these further and develop them into practical actions within the regional flood strategy.

There are other ways to disseminate the results forward. One of them is to make farms open days to invite people (neighbors, children) to see the interventions in their own farm. It is important for people to understand where the food comes from and what measures are taken in the farm to improve wildlife in the area. However, this can be done once farmers overcome the trust and security issues.

Another way to further implement NFM measure is if agriculture policies change from compensation to reward farmers for reducing flood risk. Tees River Trusts argues that compensations schemes don’t work for farmers, to give up land and get money because the measure implemented on that land will stop once the money stops. It’s more sustainable long term to raise awareness of farmers and motivate them to do NFM together with farming practices. Farmers will get paid for providing a service such as air quality (reducing ammonia in the air), clean water (planting trees), reducing flooding or carbon capture.

Transnational exchange

What can the countries learn from each other considering the different layers of MLS approach?

  • Flood protection: Share knowledge with the otherpilots in UK about the potential of building NFM solutions to improve flood protection (interviews with pilot manager, 2018 and 2019).
  • Spatial planning: Get input for the decision making of urgency and costs of measures  for prevention/pro- action of critical infrastructure from Reimerswaal, Sloegebied, Wesermarch and Kent pilots.
  • Preparedness and response: Share knowledge in working with local communities (landowners and farmers) to develop NFM solutions in disaster management and action plans. For instance, farmers from the Medway catchment can visit the Lustrum Beck catchment and talk with the farmers (interviews pilot manager, 2018 and 2019).
  • Resilient recovery: Get input on flood recovery from Roskilde (Denmark) on stakeholder flood recovery process