Latest news

Alconbury Brook Flood Group     Some of  what’s happened during May 2024

Alconbury Weston Storage and Wildlife Pond:

  • Work on the pond itself is complete.
  • Final landscaping and some spoil removal will be done in July.
  • Inlet and outlet culverts and a small dam in the adjacent ditch are still under construction.
  • Ultimately flow out of the pond will be   possible to control remotely using our telemetry system.
  • An interpretation board and safety equipment will be added during the summer.
  • We are very grateful to Evo-Air, an Alconbury based commercial drone company for producing a wonderful record of the construction.(the video will be shown at the AGM on May).
  • We are also very grateful to Anglian Water, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Baker Family for making the project possible.

Flood Alleviation Scheme.  We have received an update from the EA team working on option feasibility. (Our additions in italics.)

JBA (the modelling company evaluating costs and benefits)  are continuing to progress the options modelling and will be providing outputs from other options in the coming months.(they have worked through and reported on one option, evaluation of future options should now be quicker).

  • Thus far, outputs from the Flood Defence (walls or demoutables) (both villages) option have been provided:
  • From an initial assessment, the estimated cost of flood defences outweighs the benefits associated with the option and is therefore unlikely to be viable.
  • Further to this, flood defence heights in Alconbury Weston will likely need to be in the order of 2-3 metres in height, which makes the option impractical.
  • Defences in Alconbury would not need to be as high (1-2 metres) and the option has a better cost benefit ratio, though the cost still outweighs the benefit.

Soil Science Our first DNA results for a field at Cowpasture Farm are in.

The purpose of this work is to find out if groups of soil microbes assist soil rain infiltration and carbon storage.

The analysis is ongoing but fascinating since it reveals past and present plant DNA.

It looks like an ancient type of wheat was grown on the field and possibly grape vines.

Soil Mentor ap. 5 farms are using the ap which enables recording and analysis of soil health data.

The farms are currently adding the fields they want to monitor to the ap. (many thanks to them).

Farm Walk No 1

Out first farm walk (funded by Natural England) is scheduled for June 12th. The soil experiments and hands on opportunities to do soil measurements will be included plus a visit to a restored pond (thanks to the Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants).

All recipients of this bulletin are welcome and the invitation is attached. Places are limited so please respond quickly. There will be 2 other walks later in the summer. Thanks for this too to T H Branson.

Telemetry 14 soil moisture sensors are prepared of which 8 are deployed either on Cowpasture Farm or Alconbury Allotments. They are already generating data about soil rain capacity.

Downstream Group The group has a draft report following a walk from the Holiday Inn Brampton to Garkies Sluice (where Alconbury Brook joins the Ouse) Various issues arose from this review. The group will be meeting at the racecourse later in June.

Flood Group AGM 2024. Please attend our AGM at 7.00p.m. on May 31st at the Memorial Hall. We will provide and update on our work over the last year. There will be a chance to ask questions and make suggestions. Look forward to seeing you there!!

Contact us to volunteer at info@alconburybrookfloodgroup.uk

Donate if you can to www.justgiving.com/thealconburybrookfloodgroup

 

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group     Some of  what’s happened during April 2024

Alconbury Weston Pond: We are delighted that at last work is well underway on the large biodiversity and flood storage pond behind Sallows Farm. Top-soil has been removed and work has started on removing the layers of clay below.

  • The archaeology has been signed off, a small number of 5000 y.o. pot sheards were found and are now held by the Cambridgeshire Museum’s Service.
  • The pond is designed to take water diverted from a major ditch that runs down Vinegar Hill and previously flooded Hamerton Road. Up to 15,000m3 of water can be diverted into the large pond and then slowly released. The pond will store water from nearly 70 hectares of heavy clay agricultural land.
  • It will have a slightly undulating bottom designed to trap sediment and improve water quality.
  • When complete the site will include new hedgerow, and wildflowers. The design includes an island wildlife refuge.
  • The Flood Group want to thank Anglian Water who have funded the majority of the project. We also want to thank the Baker family who have very kindly allowed us to convert their field into the pond and who have lent massive support throughout.
  • In the long term we are interested in monitoring the carbon cost/benefit of constructing the pond.

Deeper Roots Project: Our experiments are intended to see if deeper rooted plants enable the soil to hold more water.

  • We are collecting the data from the experiment using a phone ap called Soilmentor. We are delighted that in addition to Cowpasture Farm, 4 other farms are collecting data about soil health using the ap.
  • As well as using deeper rooted varieties of plants, we are using recent research to see if plants can be encouraged to produce more roots. To do this we are using soil microbes, and tiny amounts of chemicals that switch-on root growth.
  • Our experimental plots have now been sprayed and inoculated with microbial and stimulant additives.
  • In order to keep a track of the microbes growing in the soil, we have successfully extracted microbial DNA from the test field. All of the DNA is currently being sequenced to give us a list of all of the microbes, and how much there is of each type. We will be setting out to increase the amount of beneficial microbes in the soil. We have found a way of growing some of these.
  • We are also looking at how our plants can make better use of phosphate in the soil. This could mean less pollution in the brook and less fertiliser cost for farmers.
  • Our thanks again goes to Cow Pasture Farm, to Natural England who have funded subscriptions to Soilmentor, to farmer partners, to Anglian Water for significant support, to Unium Bioscience who have donated the biostimulant chemicals and provided valuable advice and of course to our volunteers who have collected/processed samples.

Alconbury Flyover: National Highways have sourced funding for the area under the flyover on the left hand side opposite the brook. Their design team are in the process of putting together a plan. The area in the meantime has been cordoned off with barriers to help stop too many vehicles parking there as this has compacted the surface so water does not drain away.

Downstream Collaboration: A group consisting of the  Brampton Holiday Inn, The Racecourse, the Flood Group and others affected by flooding downstream of the villages is meeting for the first time on April 30th , a meeting which will include walking from the Holiday Inn to the River Ouse to look at how flow along that stretch of the brook could be improved. We continue to value the support that the Racecourse and the Hotel give to our other projects.

EA flood alleviation Scheme (FAS): Data from the consultants who are doing the option modelling has started to be sent back to the EA team working on a FAS for the Alconbury’s. There should be a little more news by the AGM (see below). One of many good reasons to attend.

Flood Group AGM 2024. Please attend our AGM at 7.00p.m. on May 31st at the Memorial Hall. We will provide and update on our work over the last year. There will be a chance to ask questions and make suggestions. Look forward to seeing you there!!

Contact us to volunteer at info@alconburybrookfloodgroup.uk

Donate if you can to www.justgiving.com/thealconburybrookfloodgroup

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group

Some of  what’s happened during March 2024

Hydroplanters at Sports and Social Club and Memorial Hall

  • Minor finishing touches made, final load of spoil to go this week.
  • Planting out this coming week
  • Maintenance contract awarded

Hydroplanters - Vinegar Hill: Vinegar Hill suffers from significant surface water run-off which threatens homes at the bottom of the hill

  • County Highways and Drainage have given their approval
  • Meeting with us, Streetworks  and our contractors SilverFern to establish road closure and asset registration needs
  • Section 50 and road space permits applied for
  • Most materials acquired so work can commence as soon as permitting allows

Alconbury Weston Pond: We have applied to have the archaeology condition removed now that the archaeologists have reported. The removal of the condition has to be considered by statutory consultees which takes 3 weeks (from March 11th). We hope that the Planning department will provide a swift decision after that so that work on the pond can start. Everything is in place for this to happen.

Natural England Partnership.: Part of our agreement includes working with 5 farmers on using a soil health phone ap called ‘SoilMentor’. We are delighted that 5 farms will be taking part. Healthy soil and reduced flood risk go hand-in hand.

Also as part of the partnership we are providing open farm events (Farm Walks) to explain some of the experiments and innovations we and the Cowpasture Farm are trying.  If you would like to be included in the Farm Walk invitation mailing list please email info@alconburybrookfloodgroup.co.uk.

EA Flood alleviation scheme: Option modelling will take until the summer

Heritage Bridge, Alconbury: We are pleased to report that the berm which had built up in front of the bridge has been removed by the Internal Drainage Board on behalf of the Environment Agency. Many thanks to them.

Telemetry: Internet of things sensors communicate over short distances with ‘gateways’ which can then transmit information over large distances. We have successfully tested another new gateway which covers sensors in the Gidding area. Our internet of things company c-Things is preparing numerous soil moisture, flow and rain sensors for deployment in the next few weeks. We have started to show volunteers how to log in to the data being collected so they can use it  to help them predict flooding, and for others as a farming tool. We plan to demonstrate our telemetry system more at our AGM in May.

Reed Spraying Course: Many thanks to Alconbury Parish Council for their significant contribution towards the cost of one our members doing a pesticide use course

Sediment tracking project: Sediment build up is a major problem preventing easy flow in the brook. Volunteers have been collecting more soil samples and we have successfully retrieved the traps from each of the main Brook tributaries. The samples and trap contents are being analysed by Rothamsted Research to understand the movement of sediment in the catchment. The brook carries many  thousands of tonnes of good agricultural soil away from farms. Some of it clogs up the brook and reduces flow.

Contact us to volunteer at info@alconburybrookfloodgroup.uk

Donate if you can to www.justgiving.com/thealconburybrookfloodgroup

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group

Many of our projects not mentioned, but here’s a flavour of what we’ve done during February 2024

Hydro-planters (large drained soakaways which also filter water) now installed at two strategic  locations in the villages:

  • Memorial Hall the Emergency Refuge for village, flooded in 2020 with water  from overflowing ditch, carpark, adjacent hill and Alconbury Weald Enterprise Zone.
  • Community groups will use planters
  • Tested recently with 20mm rain and worked superbly, no flooding on car-park.
  • Sports and Social Club access to sports areas inaccessible
  • Drain outlet shows scheme working well. Puddles rather than a lake.
  • In part re-seeded with our own hard wearing special deep-rooted grass mix.
  • Many thanks to Anglian Water for funding these projects, SilverFern Agri for working so conscientiously on the excavation, the trustees of both establishments and at least 25 excellent volunteers over 2 week-ends
  • Work on two more strategically placed Hydro-planters in Alconbury Weston under way.

Alconbury Weston and other ponds

  • Target for the Sallows Farm Pond commencement  remains March 11th weather permitting
  • Defra Funding bid for £191,000 has not been successful, however we are hopeful that other regional and local funding to fill the gap can be found fairly quickly.

Partnership Agreement with Natural England

Work has started on these projects including using some of the funding to purchase a phone app for farmers called ‘Soil Mentor’ This helps farmers to improve productivity and soil health. Healthy soil helps rain infiltration.

Farmers and community members will be invited to ‘farm walks’ starting at the end of April to have a tour of some of the innovative work we are doing on Cowpasture Farm. (Many thanks to T H Branson and Son)

Environment Agency Flood Alleviation Scheme

  • The model of how the brook behaves  has now  finally been signed off.
  • The cost of ‘doing nothing’ is being calculated on a property by property basis. This gives a base-line cost of flooding.
  • Thorough work at this stage is essential for a solid business case.

Other projects

  • The subsided bank in Alconbury Village  is now filled, needs topsoil and will be netted and seeded this week.
  • Members have been collecting soil samples for the sediment provenance project
  • The accuracy of our soil carbon measurements are being verified by a national laboratory
  • New rain and soil moisture sensors have arrived for distribution around the catchment. These are being tested at present. Thanks to the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.
  • The Flood Group has bid for funding this month from the HDC community ecology fund to help with the Sallows Farm pond biodiversity improvement and Alconbury Parish Council for safe use of herbicides near water

Contact us to volunteer at info@alconburybrookfloodgroup.uk

Donate if you can to www.justgiving.com/thealconburybrookfloodgroup

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Bulletin January 28th 2024

Hydrogardens

  • Hydrogarden units fully installed at Memorial Hall and filled with hydrosoil
  • Most work done. However 50% of spoil removal, addition of topsoil and sleepers to planters still to complete and general tidying up.
  • Fantastic work by SilverFern Agri and volunteers.
  • Thanks to Anglian Water, will add extra flood protection and a great feature to the Memorial Hall.
  • Design for Sports and Social Club signed off, hydrogarden units ordered for installation end of February
  • GreenBlue are designing roadside hydrogardens for the bottom of Vinegar Hill
  • Target for all three project end of March

Alconbury Weston and other Ponds

  • Alconbury Weston Pond site has been cleared by archaeologists for excavation to go ahead.
  • When their report is signed off by District Council, pond excavation work may begin
  • Target for this project, end of March
  • Thanks to Anglian Water and Cambridgeshire County Council for supporting the next steps.
  • We await the result of our DEFRA bid for funding for  9 more ponds in the catchment

A Partnership Agreement with Natural England is finalised. It will help to fund work with farms on soil  health and deeper roots that will contribute to flood prevention

The Brook Bank that had subsided on the Alconbury Village Green near Brookside has been partly filled by us (with EA permit exemption). It will be surfaced to the normal height with top-soil and appropriately re-seeded.

The removal of silt from upstream of the Heritage Bridge in Alconbury will occur during week commencing on Feb 20th weather and brook permitting.

All of the sediment traps are working including a replacement for the one which disappeared at the beginning of the month. We now have quite a number of soil samples. If you fancy a walk near Gidding or Winwick, let us know and we will give you some sample bags.

A number of additional sensors and a new LORAWAN gateway have been ordered and will be installed shortly. These were funded by the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation and Anglian Water. Daily use of the data has allowed us to determine the relationship between depth and flow. The peak flow during the flood in early January was about 16m3/s, almost exactly one Olympic swimming pool flows past every minute.

We have perfected a technique using AI to count useful soil fungi. These encourage the right sort of root growth.

The heavy rain at the beginning of January saw no indoor flooding in the Alconbury’s or Hamerton but it was exceptionally close. 1cm in the case of the lowest home.

EA Flood Alleviation scheme: No further news.

Contact us to volunteer at info@alconburybrookfloodgroup.uk

Donate if you can to www.justgiving.com/thealconburybrookfloodgroup

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report September 2023

EA Flood alleviation scheme: We have been invited to look at the model outputs this week in a meeting with the EA and the modelling company JBA. These outputs will be in the form of maps and other similar data showing the extent of flooding predicted for different return periods e.g. 1 every 20 years; 50 years and so on. We will be able to compare the model with real life. The first step will be to ensure the model is valid.

  IF the new model then shows that more properties flood more often than the old model, then maybe we will be able to show more benefit to be gained from a possible flood alleviation scheme. Extra benefit will mean extra funding for any scheme. Testing the model against possible schemes will take until January 2024.

GreenBlue: Acting on the information received from GreenBlue during an on-site meeting, plans to install the HydroPlanters at the Memorial Hall are developing well. A local contractor has quoted for the project. Surplus spoil will be disposed of thanks to excellent advice from Mr Philip Baker. GreenBlue have offered further support as we begin and during the work. Funding is imminent . When the time comes, we will be looking for some willing volunteers to help with some aspects of preparation and installation  We are aiming for the work to be done before the end of November.

Volunteer work and Brook Maintenance.

Internal Drainage Board will be flailing banks in the next 2 weeks

Volunteers have been tackling the places inaccessible to a tractor and have done excellent work beyond the flyover, near the ford and near the Heritage Bridge.

In October we will be doing work near the Alconbury Weston Ford, downstream of the Alconbury Sewerage Works, and a soil measuring morning.

Alconbury Weston Pond Archaeology: Quotes for the archaeology and necessary excavation have been acquired and funding has been assured. The next step is to get a brief for the work from Cambridgeshire County Council. Our chosen archaeological organisation will then produce a work schedule which will need to be approved. Hopefully by the next edition of our bulletin we will be able to report that the archaeology can begin. Although we have been assured that it is unlikely that Iron Age people built a village on a boggy field, there is always the risk that we turn up a Roman temple which might slow things down considerably!! We still hope that actual excavation of the pond will take place well before Christmas.

Harts Pond: We have met with Phil Hart the farmer who, with minor modifications, has approved the plan. A few pieces of paperwork to sign and then hopefully volunteers will move in, in October to complete some tree work, and then the contractor to do the excavation.

Small meander adaption- Permit application approved work to be done later in the autumn.

Charity: We have applied for a ‘Just Giving’ page

Nitrate measurement: Volunteers have carried out a second survey at the beginning of September. Again levels are higher as you move downstream, slightly lower than August’s measurements.

Debris in the brook at Hinchingbrooke Country Park is still there despite our request that it be removed. Nuns Bridge is badly blocked topped off with a supermarket trolley. The debris may block the bridge and the trolley may get stuck in Garkies Sluice.

This is very disappointing since we were promised action last month and the month before! Watch this space.

Herbal Ley Project: Seed sowing for at least 2 of the experiments during October. Volunteers will be doing soil testing during October. Exciting! Work has started on our first video, link to YouTube channel in next bulletin.

Sensor Project: We will know if Cambridgeshire Community Foundation can support the purchase of additional sensors and the community dissemination of the information by November 1st

Mill Road Drains. A change in staff at CCC has resulted in a slight delay in inspection for further action. Our County Councillor has assured us this will be discussed this week and following a Flood Group request the 3 gullies in Mill Road/Brookside bend area were jetted and suctioned. It seems there is likely to be a blockage in the pipes running underground to the brook. We have requested a joint onsite visit with the Highways as the first step in resolving this issue. This has been reported to CCC for follow-up and our County Councillor for support.

Brampton Cross Meeting with BX team held and a number of questions submitted. The Parish Council are arranging a public meeting with BX in October. We hope to have answers to our questions before the meeting.

Flood Conference: 5 members of the Flood Group attended Cambridgeshire’s second Flood Conference with us all returning with useful info and contacts. Back in January 23 Cambridgeshire made a short video about TABFG, we have seen a preview and understand it will soon be released. Link to video in next bulletin.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report August 2023

EA flood alleviation scheme. Good news that the long-awaited model has been released by the modelling company. Once its checked, the options and combination of options will be tested. We hope to have more information about the model in the next edition including how closely it matches the lived experience of our communities. The option modelling will last until January.

Green-Blue Rainwater Garden Project: A visit from a member of the GreenBlue team was very beneficial. We have a better understanding of what needs to be done, how it will be done and who will do the work. We also, now understand the process to set this project in motion. It is likely that work will not be able to start until early Autumn but planning is in hand. (photo of meeting )

Alconbury Weston Pond: Planning permission has been granted but conditional on a full scale archaeological survey. This will be an expensive addition and will cause delays. Planning permission has taken 10 months and the archaeology condition was added at the last moment. To say we are disappointed would be an understatement however resilience is a necessary attribute for flood groups! If you know a reasonably priced chartered archaeologist, let us know!!

Harts Pond: Outline and costing approved by the Hunts and Beds Wildlife Trust. Next steps are farmer and landowner consent. We hope this work will take place mid-October. We will need help from volunteers to clear on 2 sides of the pond before work can commence.

Meander adaption- EA officer (thanks to him) appointed to help us with the application is now satisfied that our pre-submission is satisfactory and meets the necessary requirements. Work on this is likely in November and will have to be done entirely by hand. Debbie will be asking for volunteers.

Charity Registration: The Flood Group Charity is now registered which gives us the advantage of being a legal entity. Our Charity number is 1204246.

Nitrate measurement: Volunteers have been collecting water samples from the brook to measure various chemicals. This will allow us to track water flow and sediment from upstream. Currently, nitrate levels are nearly three times higher at Alconbury Ford compared to Hamerton and Gidding.

Debris in the brook at Hinchingbrooke Country Park is still there despite our request that it be removed. A campaign of letter writing will commence shortly.

Herbal Ley Project: Excellent progress, first areas will be seeded with deep rooted plants in September at Cowpastures Farm in Gidding and on an allotment in Alconbury. Progress will be recorded on a YouTube channel. Testing of the plots has already been going on for some time, but there will be an opportunity for volunteers to do some soil measurements in the autumn. Soil moisture and rainfall will be measured automatically using our sensor system.

Sensor Project: The FG has applied for funding from the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to support the purchase of additional sensors and the dissemination of the information collected to the Community. The real time data will help people make accurate predictions about flood risk and times.

Mill Road Drains Following a FG request to Cambs County Council the 3 gullies in Mill Road/Brookside bend area were jetted and suctioned. It was noted at the time that there was likely to be a blockage in the pipes running underground to the brook. This has been reported to CCC and our County Councillor for follow up and further action.

Brampton Cross is a new possible new development to the south of Alconbury. The FG are keen to understand the scale and detail of the scheme to that we can evaluate flood risks and the measures which will be required to mitigate them. We have a meeting later this week with the developers to discuss the information that will help us.

Fallen Willow: Thanks to FG members who removed a Willow Tree which had fallen across the brook downstream of Alconbury Weston ford. This would have been a problem if we had experienced heavy rain.

Contact us at: info@alconburyfloodgroup.uk

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report July 2023

Anglian Water Partnership.

We are delighted to report that Anglian Water have approved our bid for £100,000. This will go towards the Alconbury Weston Pond, The GreenBlue Urban project, and the Soil Science project.

Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS)

Work on the Alconbury Brook model is still underway

Pond Projects

  • Alconbury Weston Pond
    • The deadline for the extension requested by HDC has passed. The additional consultees have responded without reservation. We have written to request an early decision.
  • Harts Pond
    • Positive meeting with the Hunts and Beds Wildlife Trust who have provisionally agreed to fund the project. Rough sketches and a process have been agreed. Quotes for the excavation are being obtained. Work including tree felling by volunteers will probably take place in October.
  • Meander adaption
    • The EA has given help and advice to enable us to (hopefully) make a successful permit application.

Sensor Project

  • Following the successful trial, the Flood Group is bidding for funding from the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to install soil moisture, rainfall and flow sensors at various point in the catchment. Our intention is to share the data we collect with the community in a simple to access format. The Phone ap will allow residents to predict potential flood events more accurately.

GreenBlue Urban project

  • Further development of the schemes and discussions with the Parish Council and the Memorial Hall
  • Quotes for the rainwater garden materials have been obtained.
  • Funding will come from the Anglian Water Partnership

Herbal Ley Project

  • The main part of this project will be funded by the Anglian Water Partnership.
  • Additional funding is being sought from Natural England to disseminate the outcomes to farmers.
  • Experiments likely to cover other Countryside Stewardship schemes and at least one other location.

National Highways Partnership

  • We held a preliminary meeting to discuss how we might work together and bid for Environment and Well-being funding. We put forward several projects and will meet the National Highways team again in September.

Hinchingbrooke Country Park and Racecourse

  • Concerns about flow through the Country Park mentioned in the last bulletin have now been formally raised with Neil Sloper who is the District Council Officer responsible. We have asked for a meeting to discuss possible solutions.
  • The Racecourse is also affected by this issue. We have a regular update meeting with them shortly and will acquaint them with the problems downstream.

Village Fete:

Dozens of people stopped to chat. Very pleasant afternoon despite a bit of rain.

Call for sites

One of the ways in which Local Councils source and allocate land for potential future development is via a consultation exercise known as a “Call For Sites”. This allows developers to have building land assessed for inclusion as part of future local planning strategy. This process has now ended and the public can see the sites at: sites-submitted-in-call-for-sites.xlsx (live.com). If you want to see more detail and comment you need to put the site number into this website: Call for Sites Spring 2023 - What people say - Keystone (huntingdonshire.gov.uk). From a purely Flood Group point changes in the law later this year will require developers to do much more to reduce the impact of flooding and environmental harm. Will that be enough? Take a look and comment.

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report June 2023

Flood Alleviation Scheme FAS

  • Update from modelling company on their progress  next week. During July, we may get draft maps showing properties likely to flood at certain return periods e.g. 1 in 20 years. When finalised these will be used to re-calculate the economic benefit of any scheme.

Pond Projects

  • Alconbury Weston Pond
    • HDC asked for an extension in making a decision until July 15th so they could consult Highways and the Flood Authority. Both have replied. The flood Authority have supported the application and Highways have reserved judgement. We have started correspondence with Highways to resolve their queries.
  • Harts Pond
    • Meeting tomorrow with the Hunts and Beds Wildlife Trust. A survey has been conducted (thanks to A and C using a paddleboard and a surveyor’s pole donated by J) of the bed of the pond and a plan drawn to progress the application.
  • Meander adaption
    • Downstream of Alconbury the brook is very sinuous which takes energy out of the flow. Thanks to the landowner we are now at the early stages of applying to install a shelf dug into the bank on one of the tightest bends so we can measure the impact on flow, sediment movement and the brook environment.

Sensor Project

  • Soil moisture sensors have been installed at Sallows Farm after extensive testing by B at his house. FG plan to apply for Community Foundation funding for further sensors and community access meetings to enable people to view and use the sensor data to understand flood risk.
  • C and B visited the Central Beds County Council Resilientogether Project which has similar aims to our sensor work. Interesting and useful exchange of ideas.

GreenBlue Urban project

  • Further supportive discussion by Parish Councils
  • Plans and quotations for work in some locations have been prepared.
  • Awaiting funding decision which if positive will allow work to be done September/October.

Herbal Ley Project

  • Funding now seems to be assured, but other funding being sought to complement work.
  • Further measurements being made including production of biomass here and on other farm sites for comparison.
  • Progress slow because funding not likely to be available until September/October.
  • Complementary projects on sediment and microplastics have made a little progress. Citizen science project as part of EA research. T has offered to be involved in trapping microplastics.

Meeting with Olive Morley (CEO Huntingdonshire District Council)

  • Thanks to Ian for organising.
  • Introduced FG to Oliver and raised issues including footbridge and riparian maintenance (see photos) at Hinchingbrooke Country Park, stressed  importance of using up to date brook modelling in making planning and emergency response policy, Section 3 which is about new legal responsibilities on developers to ensure flood risk is mitigated, and BNG which is a new legal framework to ensure developers compensate for any environmental losses.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report May 2023

FAS

  • EA has produced a new statement summarising progress with FAS, main points below:
    • On the basis of evidence available last summer,  the cost of the June 2022 Options individually outweighed the benefit, so progress wasn’t possible.
    • •Updated evidence is being prepared. A new brook survey has been conducted, data from this will be used over the next 3 months for a new model of the brook showing risk levels in different parts of the villages.
    • •Once signed off, the model will be used to test the impact of revised options and combinations of options to see if benefit can be shown to outweigh cost.
    • •Approx timescale for this work is mid to late autumn 2023 with reporting early 2024.
  • Helpful meeting with EA 2 weeks ago to look at updating options and possible workable combinations.

Pond Projects

  • Work on Buckworth Scrape is complete apart from some seeding in the autumn. Thank you to many volunteers who helped with everything from site clearance, drawing plans, applying for permits, taking photos, pegging out the site etc. Also massive thanks to Geoff or course for letting us excavate in his field. Thanks also goes to the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation who funded over 80% of the project. Also to HJD Plant who did the excavation
  • Planning permission awaited for Alconbury Weston Pond. The statutory expiry date was May 15th, since then we have chivvied but to no effect as yet.
  • We have discussed Phil Harts Pond with the Hunts and Beds Wildlife Trust with a view to them assisting. The next steps are a meeting with them on site and a survey day with measuring poles and a canoe.

Flood Mobile

  • Thanks to the County Council and members of the Flood Group the visit Alconbury Weston went ahead on April 29th. Over 30 people attended the day

Gabions

  • Stage 2 moving to stage 3 = Moving from outline design stage to sourcing funding stage

Sensor Project

  • 2 gateways on barns and sensors now sending data to a server in Cambridge. Extraordinary perseverance all round (Well done BJ) Final step is calibration so we can all see graphs of soil moisture etc.
  • Cambridgeshire looking at putting a depth gauge on Mile Brook and Buckworth Brook which will use the same system. We are looking at flow sensors to go in the same positions.

GreenBlue Urban project

  • 7 possible sites, 3 of which investigated in depth. Parish Councils and Memorial Hall committee are supportive. DF now has quotes for the work on these first projects so work could commence as soon as funding available.

Herbal Ley Project

  • Funding now seems to be assured, but other funding being sought to complement work.
  • Baseline measure of soil carbon done and will be validated by a commercial laboratory.
  • Meeting held about complementary project by EA scientists to look at the sediment run-off in Mile Brook. There is a likely opportunity for many volunteers to be involved in soil data collection. Sediment is an important issue which causes downstream flow restriction. Sediment collector may go in the same position as the sensors above.

Key Dates:

Our web-site: Home (alconburybrookfloodgroup.uk)

Contact us at: info@alconburyfloodgroup.uk

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report April 2023

FAS

  • FG has submitted some additional information about semi-permanent islands of sediment.
  • Nest step = meeting to discuss modelling assumptions

Pond Projects

  • Planning permission granted for Buckworth Scrape
  • Internal Drainage Permit issued for work
  • Landowner to whom we are grateful is helping to prepare the site
  • Volunteer event May 1st, more info from Debbie
  • Contractor booked to carry pout work in early May
  • Planning permission awaited for Alconbury Weston Pond due hopefully by/on May 15th
  • Helpful meeting with Milton Estates Manager about pond and other projects
  • Design work on Hamerton and Gidding ponds this month

Flood Mobile

  • Scheduled to visit Alconbury Weston on April 29th. Green next to North Road at 9.30 onwards. Watch for village social media and posters for further details

Gabions

  • Setback regarding timing. Meeting with National Highways Manager on 28th April

Sensor Project

  • Still some testing needed to ensure sensors communicating.
  • Gateway to be installed at Sallows Farm shortly and at Holly Lodge before end of June.
  • Holly Lodge will connect to watercourse level sensors in Mile Brook and Buckworth Brook.

Blue Green Urban project

  • 7 possible sites
  • Positive discussion with both Parish Councils (PCs)
  • D working with PCs, Highways and Blue Green urban to create designs and costings for evaluation.

Herbal Ley Project

  • Baseline testing of field in Gidding has continued courtesy of landowner.
  • Various measurements from worms to soil saturation have been made.
  • Discussion with Natural England about funding to disseminate findings to farmers
  • Some work done setting up soil DNA testing as a measure of soil health and rain infiltration.

Ashden Award

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for an award for innovative Community Nature Adaptation tackling flooding and climate change. This is an international award with shortlisted schemes from the UK, and many other countries. A final assessment will take place during June when assessors will visit us to review our work.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report March 2023

FAS

  • Survey data including over 150 cross sections and over 1000 photographs has been published and shared with Flood Group.
  • Meeting with EA modellers (JBA) held March 17th to discuss issues that might affect the base-line model including for example sediment, sinuosity, soils, run-off etc. (discussion paper by FG available on request)
  • Base line model will be ready by July and available to test options.
  • JP now has two additional EA colleagues working on the project.
  • EA understands concern about progress but argue that its worth spending time on creating the best outcome.

Pond Projects

  • Planning proposal has now been accepted for Buckworth Scrape. County Archaeologist has written to say no further objections to new plans. Hopefully work will take place during late April/May  23/00429/AGDET
  • Alconbury Weston Pond planning application has been accepted and is now available for public consultation. AW Parish Council considering next week. 22/02468/FUL
  • Meeting next week with Milton Estate Manager will include Great Gidding Pond
  • Outline sketches of Great Gidding Pond positively received by farmer.
  • Landowner in Hamerton has approached the flood group with a view to creating a pond on their land near the brook.

Flood Mobile

  • Scheduled to visit Alconbury Weston on April 29th. More info to follow.

Gabions

  • Still awaiting plans

Sensor Project

  • Gateway now working and receiving data from sensors and nodes. Hard work by B to get communication code working
  • c-Things working with us to ensure system working well
  • Next step will be installation of trial equipment in Alconbury Weston. Soon after that mobile app for Alconbury Catchment data will become available to community.

Herbal Ley Project

  • Numerous meetings with experts and possible collaborators to assist design of the experiment and methods for base line testing
  • Some baseline testing already being done
  • Discussion with other farmers about plant species which prosper on heavy soil
  • Approach made to Natural England for catchment partnership funding to extend the project and dissemination of results to farmers.

Blue Green Urban (Modular surface water retention system which incorporates natural processes)

  • Meeting of Flood Group identified a number of possible places.
  • Cambridgeshire Highways have said they will help FG evaluate possibilities with a view to creating a short-list
  • Short list will be prepared for PCs for further discussion and refinement.

Ashden Award (£10,000) for communities working with water- next step if we are successful will be an assessor visit in the summer.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report February 2023

Overall picture is that progress is rather slow with FG waiting for news and progress in a number of areas.

FAS

  • EA modeller visiting in the next few days to look at parts of the brook which may not have standard behaviour.
  • A little extra data about previous flood events including 2016 AW passed to EA
  • Suggestions for complimentary options passed to EA by FG. The intention is to add cheaper additional work which add benefit at relatively less extra cost. Additional suggestions included benching on tightest downstream meanders and work on downstream agricultural bridges.
  • FG has also asked that work it is doing (at no cost to the FAS project)is included in benefit calculations.

Pond Projects

  • Archaeologists have agreed new plan for Buckworth Scrape. CCC planners are hopefully preparing a benefit statement. A new application will then be required but planning officer has promised a quick turnaround.
  • Planning permission still awaited for large AW pond. Reference number has been allocated and hopefully it will appear on the HDC website soon. We will be encouraging FG supporters to write. Reference 22/02468/FUL
  • New pond project in Great Gidding surveyed last week.

Video and Flood Mobile

  • CCC video about TABFG is apparently looking good and will be on You Tube and the CCC website soon.
  • The Flood Mobile will be back this time to AW in April. CCC,FG and AW PC all involved including road closure publicity etc. Very positive feedback from visit in 2021. More info nearer the date.

Gabions

  • Further progress. Money has been allocated and survey team have visited the area so that design work can start. PCs, FG, residents will all be consulted when plans are available.

Sensor Project

Sensors and nodes working.

  • Meeting with c-Things to agree next steps with follow-up meeting with CCC to confirm the funding necessary for a prototype test and equipment needed. Agreement with a landowner in AW to kindly host a gateway on their barn which receives data from the sensors and connects to the internet.
  • Installation in next couple of weeks. Equipment can then be used to gather all sorts of flood related data.

Herbal Ley Project

  • Outline agreement with landowner passed to Anglian Water (as funders) for comment
  • Experimental outline being developed
  • Considerable interest from a wide range of potential collaborators

 

National Flood Forum- supporting flood groups

  • CCC have paid for us to have use of their services and support until September.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report January 2023

FAS

  • Progress slow. Survey complete but modelling report will take months more.
  • Problem still in demonstrating cost benefit ratio despite there being funds in the pot. JP to get some calculations done in-house to save time and cost.
  • Flood Group have re-visited nearly every property which flooded in 1998 in order to give accurate property data to JP
  • Flood Group asking local contractors to quote in order to demonstrate how cost reductions might be possible.
  • At EAs suggestion, next FG meeting will look at elements of less popular options to see how combinations with our preferred option might add benefit.

Pond Projects

  • Planning permission turned down for Buckworth scrape! On grounds that slight overlap with Iron Age settlement. FG has negotiated with County Archaeologist and an acceptable compromise has been reached that allows us to make progress. Discussed with Planning Officer and way forward likely.
  • Planning permission still awaited for large AW pond.

Video

  • CCC invited FG to make a video about their work to inform other flood groups. Video team interviewed residents from A and AW

Gabions

  • Further progress. Money has been allocated and survey team have visited the area so that design work can start. PCs, FG, residents will all be consulted when plans are available.

Sensor Project

  • Flow, rainfall, and soil moisture as starting point.
  • Experimental prototype sensors and nodes prepared by FG member.
  • Awaiting an opportunity to check that prototypes communicate properly with c-Things gateways. If they do then sensor data will eventually be accessible on mobile phones.
  • 4 landowners have offered to accommodate communication equipment.

Herbal Ley Project

  • Experiment at Great Gidding on grass mixtures which conserve soil moisture and sediment run-off.
  • Sensors will also be part of this project + biodiversity measurement and sediment run-off, soil microbe DNA and sediment fingerprinting.
  • Outcomes will include dissemination of results to catchment farmers, and beyond
  • Significant funding to support this project likely through Anglian Water, other help from EA and Natural England.

National Flood Forum

  • Recent visit to look at our work and provide ideas. Commitment by them to give talk on Flood-re at FG AGM

Racecourse

  • Generous support included naming a horse-race: Stop Alconbury Brook Flooding Challenge and providing an opportunity for a bucket collection at the Boxing Day meeting. £455 raised.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report 16th December 2022

Alconbury Flood Alleviation Scheme:

  • Survey is now complete
  • Cost benefit ratio has moved a little. Our current contribution to a better estimate of benefit is a further door to door survey for flood depths in ’98 and ’20.
  • Discussion about ensuring best possible and most accurate flow data is available for benefit calculation and modelling estimates.

Ponds Project: Planning permission for Alconbury Weston Pond submitted awaiting response from District Council. Quote for work confirms that this will be an expensive project with flood group fund raising a priority in the new year. Buckworth pond planning application ready and being checked. Landowner has generously offered to submit on our behalf since this increases chance of the application being successful

Volunteer work: A further 8 dead trees removed from near Polecat Lane

Newsletter: December edition of the community newsletter delivered to all households. Many thanks to all who helped.

Data Project: Cambridgeshire CC, and cThings working with us to get on-line flow, soil moisture and rainfall measurements available on-line via 4G. Locations chosen and equipment due for testing after Christmas. Also a bid for £7500 to enTrade for soil moisture sensors for a partnership experiment with Natural England.

Charity Registration application. Submitted.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group (FG) Report November 26th 2022

Alconbury Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme.

  • A meeting took place last week with EA about the Flood Alleviation Scheme (‘the options’). These are regular scheduled meetings.
  • Visit to Barford Reservoirs discussed (see below)
  • Survey team had started work from the Old Bridge Hotel, Huntingdon to Hamerton.
  • Discussion about estimating scheme benefit without accurate data. FG is currently collecting lived data of accurate flood depths in the 78 properties which flooded indoors in 2020.
  • Positive discussion.

Barford Reservoir

  • FG invited to look at Barford Reservoirs by IDB operations manager and later by farmer who owns lad adjacent to both dams.
  • Two 5m high bunds with culverts in different watercourses possibly similar in design to Option 5 at Alconbury Weston
  • Built 2007 for approx. £500,000 each. Funding from a variety of sources including Defra 45%
  • Reservoir so regular engineering inspection. Structure very simple, soil netted grass bank with embedded curb stones
  • Spoil from another project close by incorporated into the bunds
  • Great Barford flooding frequency and number of properties affected similar to Alconbury’s.
  • Took less than a fortnight to construct each dam!
  • Alconbury version 1m higher and somewhat larger storage capacity given shape of upstream valley.
  • Using local contractors to reduce cost and funding arrangements discussed with EA FAS team

Many thanks to IDB Phil Lovesey and landowner Gary Davison

40 Ponds/NFM Two more NFM projects now completed this month. (left Black Lodge Pond by FG and FWAG and right Winwick new brook meanders, ponds and leaky dams by EA and FWAG) Black Lodge filling and emptying nicely in last few days. Winwick project significant project on 250m of brook upstream) FG

Thanks Lucy Jenkins FWAG and Karen Paterson EA)

Next two ponds are in planning process. AW-Philip Baker’s pond planning application submitted, Buckworth Brook scrape application with planning consultant.

Survey Community interaction with survey team revealed that they have been commissioned to do 100m intervals. We have suggested to EA that this may miss key bottlenecks and pinch points, and that these are important when improving the current models. Suggestions have been made to some additional cross sections that could be surveyed.

Sensor projects FG believes that accurate information about rainfall, soil moisture and flow is crucial to understanding the brook and measuring outcomes of interventions. FG has met with cthings and CCC to look at how we could integrate our sensors with their 3G data communication system. Very positive response. Visit planned to cthings HQ to develop technical side. Bid in to ‘entrade’ for £7500 towards sensors and nodes. FG is monitoring soil moisture and flow on a regular basis.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group (FG) Report October 23rd 2022

Alconbury Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme.

A meeting took place last week with EA about the Flood Alleviation Scheme (‘the options’). These are regular scheduled meetings.

Progress is being made.

EA and FG consensus that national contractors may not be able to price scheme so that cost/benefit ratio of 1 or more is reached.

Good discussion about possible ways forward that may show increased benefit and reduced cost in a different funding framework.

EA have commissioned a Survey Team to ‘map’ the brook. The resulting data will be the basis for flood models. Work will start their work November/December. This new step will cause some delay, but we anticipate will demonstrate greater potential benefit. In the meantime the ‘lived accounts’ of flooding will be used.

We are keen that the EA raise the potential storage capacity of the option upstream of AW when calculating the benefit of that option.

We also want the ‘benefit’ to include the work the FG are doing which has no cost to the Flood alleviation scheme.

40 Ponds project (Landscape Recovery/NFM)

  • Work on Black Lodge Pond should be nearly complete by the time your read this.
  • Application for a Windfarm grant for Buckworth Brook floodplain (scrape) has been successful. Target is to complete work on this by Christmas. We will need help from our lovely volunteers to clear and mark out the site.
  • Our difficulties in managing the planning application process for the Alconburv Weston Pond have lead us to appoint a planning consultant. Cambridgeshire County Council have agreed to advance us the funding for the consultant and the planning application.
  • Ian Gardener has kindly supported setting up a meeting with the Head of Planning at Huntingdonshire District Council to create a policy route through the pond planning process which is hopefully going to happen many more times. This will be a joint meeting with the Karen Paterson from the EA.
  • Karen also has 2 new pond projects underway in the upper parts of the catchment.

CIL funding

Our CIL funding application was turned down. However again thanks to Ian Gardener, the District Council have agreed to look at ways to achieve the same objective. We have a meeting with the EA, Ian and the chief planning officer next week.

Flyover Gabions

Progress still being made with design work

Volunteers/ Maintenance

Fantastic work by volunteers this month, quality cutting by the IDB drivers

Under permit exemption silt has been removed from the old footbridge in Alconbury Weston and near the fly-over in Alconbury

The internal Drainage Board team have flailed the banks from Alconbury Weston to the lower part of Brooklands Farm (further than previous years). We are very pleased with the work done which has been careful and thorough.

The Flood Group Volunteers have continued to clear brush and bushes from the banks where the tractor mower has been unable to reach including near the start of Brooklands Farm, near the Alconbury Ford footbridge, banks of rear gardens on the High Street Alconbury and Alconbury Weston and several other sections of the brook.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group (FG) Report September 2022

Alconbury Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme.

FG submitted cross section data thanks to several members who helped with measurements. New brook survey had been commissioned by EA to improve modelling, will cause delay of 2-3 months

2nd meeting with EA on scheme options, main issue cost estimate too high and benefits too low

Discussion took place about how to improve the viability of the scheme including

  • New survey and modelling demonstrating more benefit
  • Improving design to get best benefit for least cost
  • Inflation, optimism and climate change factors to increase benefit
  • Alternative funding streams with less constraints on contractor choice to reduce cost
  • Combination of options to increase benefits

JP also to look at rejected options for acceptable elements which might add to benefit

FG will look at acceptable concepts to see if they can be applied elsewhere in the catchment and make enquiries.

40 Ponds project (Landscape Recovery/NFM)

  • Work on Black Lodge Pond refurbishment has started, our amazing volunteers have cleared much of the undergrowth. 2 more small trees to remove this weekend. Excavation by contractor  to start asap.
  • Buckworth Brook floodplain (scrape) improvement, awaiting meeting of Wind Farm trustees to see if funding available and  we can proceed. If possible, work completed by Christmas.
  • Alconbury Weston Pond. Design work complete but now struggling with planning consent. Currently looking at getting consent for ponds as mining projects through Cambridgeshire rather than through a Huntingdonshire District Council planning application.
  • Possibility of creating a Catchment Area Partnership with Natural England. An initial description of our projects have been submitted. Outcome could be financial support for individual projects of up to £20,000 including possibly some arrangement to give FG admin support and increase its capacity.

CIL funding

An application was submitted by the FG on behalf of Alconbury PC to install 10 trapped drains near the Village Green in Alconbury. The cost is very high, partly because so many services traverse the drain pipes. We have our fingers crossed.

Flyover Gabions

Progress being made with design work

Volunteers/ Maintenance

Team in Alconbury and Alconbury Weston have been working every Saturday and have cleared 700m of bank, and some silt/reeds under permit. Work will continue during October to:

  • clear near the upstream footbridge in Alconbury Weston including silt removal, back gardens, at the back of Bridge garage and finishing off near the Dutch Arches. A tree permit has been applied for to remove a mostly dead Willow from the bank downstream of the main footbridge.
  • clear back gardens and near the Heritage Bridge in Alconbury. Complete silt removal near the flyover under permit. Clear the banks near the second gate on the sheep field.

We expect the Internal Drainage Board (who are doing the banks this year) to start and complete flail mowing of banks in the next few days so we can identify areas that still need work.

Cambridgeshire Flood Conference.

Cambridgeshire held a very helpful conference attended by several FG members. Very interesting talks including Flood-RE about insurance and help to ‘build back better’, and the National Flood Forum. We also presented our work. Many good contacts made, and conversations had. Good event.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report August 28th 2022

Alconbury Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme.

As a result of consultation, the main option now being evaluated is the upstream culverted bund at Alconbury Weston plus other complimentary options. The FAS website is being regularly updated so the public can check progress.

First of our regular meetings with EA discussed progress with acquiring funding which is going well with further funds from national infrastructure funding which is available to communities which have flooded twice or more in the last 10 years (e.g. 2016 and 2020).

EA reported that preliminary costings of some options being prepared.

Also helpful discussion about modelling. Flood Group looking at the cross section of the brook in a number of places to see if it has changed. This work has started and feedback provided to the EA about the section from the flyover to Armstrong’s Gorse.

FG reported on progress with upstream pond projects, successes and challenges (see below)

FG outlined conversations they had had with downstream businesses and how we could work together.

40 Ponds project (Landscape Recovery/NFM)

Positive meeting with FWAG and landowner regarding Black Lodge pond refurbishment. All looks good for this to happen in the next few months. FWAG and FG to meet contractor on site early September.

Hamerton pond project has fallen through, as a result FG are in the process of preparing a permitted development application for another site in Alconbury Weston. All being well the £10,000 being provided by CCC will go towards this as well as other funding.

The FG completed and submitted an application to the Wooley Wind Farm Fund for a grant to make a 1500m3 scrape next to Buckworth Brook. If the grant application is successful then autumn or spring completion anticipated.

CIL funding

CIL is the levy developers pay which is then given to communities to improve infrastructure.

Alconbury PC on behalf of the FG has applied for CIL funds to provide trapped drains on Brookside and at the end of the High Street. Trapped drains have an underground container to remove silt.

The current drains allow road silt to go straight into the brook which encourages reed growth. The reedy section of the brook in Alconbury is 50cm shallower because of the build up of silt.

Volunteer projects

We have a schedule for Saturdays in September to complement the maintenance work being done by the EA, also in September. We are starting with work around the Dutch Arches in Alconbury Weston, and just before and after the flyover in Alconbury. If you can volunteer contact Debbie Hose for details of when we need help.

The County Council have provided us with additional equipment including wheelbarrows, shovels, ropes, brush cutters and hedge cutters.

The FG have been invited to speak at the forthcoming Cambridgeshire Flood Conference.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report July 24th 2022

Alconbury Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme

  1. Matched Funding: The scheme has already attracted a significant amount of match funding e.g. £1M +
  2. Modelling: The Flood Group have been comparing the EA models for various return periods (e.g. 1 in 100 years) with recollections of flood events from 1967 onwards. Over 40 local people responded with photographs, videos and measurable points (e.g. just covered my floor) allowing us to plot their data against the flood models. There are discrepancies. The lived experiences of people who suffered flooding generally exceed the models’ estimates. It will be essential to resolve this before cost benefit calculations are made in the next stage of the business case development. We are still looking for more memories and anecdotal evidence from 1978.
  3. Once the holiday season is over it has been suggested that the FG meet with Jacobs and the EA every three weeks or so.

40 Ponds project (Landscape Recovery/NFM)

  1. CCC have committed £10,000 to one of our projects. The FG has met and agreed that this will be spent on an off line pond at Hamerton. A meeting with the landowner and the FG to peg-out the pond prior to making a planning application is due in the next couple of weeks.
  2. CCC have committed to fund an NFM scheme above Tanglewood for the EA. Some plans have already been drawn but a site visit is needed before much more progress can be made.
  3. The Farming Wildlife Advisory Group who have already committed to funding the renovation of the Black Lodge Pond are meeting with the landowner on 25/7 to confirm details before contractors are appointed.
  4. 2 local contractors have visited with the FG the Black Lodge, Hamerton and another site for a 1500m3 scrape next to Buckworth Brook in order to obtain quotes.
  5. The FG will make a bid for Wind Farm funding for the Buckworth Brook Scrape by August 1st.

CIL funding

  1. The FG have committed to working with PCs to obtain CIL funding for
  2. Refurbishment of the ford area Alconbury Weston
  3. Improvement to sediment control Alconbury

Applications need to be in by end of August. Full discussions with PCs yet to be held

      Volunteer projects

The FG are starting to construct a schedule of volunteer work fore the autumn/winter which will include clearance near the Dutch arches in AW and tree clearance around the Black Lodge pond. Previous targeted areas will be re-visited.

     Alconbury Fete

A good number of visitors to our stall including many younger ones who wanted to save the doggies at Holly Lodge and the babies in the Alconbury’s by slowing the flow in the guttering models. Older ones who shared recollections of previous floods

 

The Alconbury Brook Flood Group Report May 2022

The Flood Group has had a number of meetings with the Environment Agency (EA) and Jacobs to prepare for the public consultation meeting on June 14th.  The purpose of this public meeting is to get broad views on a range of options including ‘do nothing’ and ‘do minimum (status quo).

We have commented in detail on a number of proposals. The criteria we applied are in the box below

At the time of writing, we do not know which options will be presented but hope that our own preferred option will be included.

It is likely that other options from the unsuccessful 2005 and 2007 appraisal processes will be included to give the community a choice.

We have also walked from 1km downstream of the flyover to Holly Lodge with members of the EA Options Team pointing out opportunities and major obstacles within each option for example, damage to upstream or downstream businesses.

The public meeting will take place on June 14th at the Sports and Social Club between 2.00 and 7.30p.m. Please encourage people to attend.

The FG is about to send out a newsletter, and will also send out a public meeting reminder a few days before the 14th.

The FG held a successful AGM with about 40 people attending and nearly an hour of questions.

The Flood Group Charity also held its AGM.

The boat has finally been launched. Several members had a go during an enjoyable afternoon. We persuaded Mr Djonogly to have first go (in case of leaks). All survived the event and the boat will be in action soon.

A further phone meeting with the clerk of the course at Huntingdon Racecourse looked at issues of mutual interest.

More dead trees near Polecat Lane have been removed by volunteers.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group report for April 2022

There has been further progress with shortlisting options for the Alconbury Flood Alleviation Scheme. (The number of options has been reduced first from the original 31 to 11 then to 3). A consultation involving Flood Group members and Parish Council members is under way on the three options currently scoring best. We have been invited to provide feedback on May 6th. This is still an early stage. Full community consultation will follow when the best option/s are converted to into detailed plans. This will occur in the summer. Jacobs and the EA, with our help, will then build a business case to get funding from the Flood Prevention Capital Programme.

The EA (KP) have held an initial meeting with landowners from Alconbury to Steeple Gidding with a view to making a bid for an DEFRA pilot scheme (Landscape Recovery) which could improve freshwater habitat and flood mitigation. The Flood Group will be providing admin support for the bid.

Subsequently a smaller group have held a more formal Landscape Recovery meeting. Flood Group members will be contacting all landowners to construct a scheme. Likely ideas could include a network of new and refurbished ponds providing enhanced habitats and flood water storage; floodplain refurbishment enhancing habitats adjacent to water courses and their capacity; and well-designed leaky dams.

Volunteers have removed 7 more dead trees from near Polecat Lane as part of a long-term project to replace the trees with a hedge.

The Flood Group Charity has had its inaugural meeting. On 10th May 2022, the Charity will hold its AGM at the Sports and Social Club. Straight after the Charity’s AGM, the Flood Group will hold its AGM, which will be open to the public.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group report for March 2022

Volunteers have removed 3 trees from the brook near Polecat Lane. They have also cleared vegetation from the back of 2 gardens on the High Street Alconbury.

We have with the landowners permission started to remove other dead trees near Polecat Lane. We have consulted the EA about this work and plan to plant hedging to replace the gaps left by the trees in the autumn.

We have 4 permit exemptions for clearing silt adjacent to culverts and grips in Alconbury Weston and Alconbury. This work will take place over the next few months. On the basis of legal advice through the County Council we have made arrangements for expert ecological advice prior to any work to ensure nesting birds and spawning fish are not disturbed.

Our yellow boat is licenced to go anywhere on the Ouse and its tributaries. We are looking forward to launching it soon.

We have met with Jacobs who have completed the first phase of their work. We discussed the long list of 31 schemes which has been reduced to about 10. All members of the committee were consulted including Parish Councillor members. There was a fair degree of convergence in our views and those of the EA and Jacobs. Our favoured schemes remain in the running. We also discussed weighted criteria for additional shortlisting which includes cost, flood mitigation effectiveness, social impact and wellbeing, environmental cost/benefit.

We have continued to work with landowners on NFM schemes. Our current plans will cost approx. £75,000.  The Flood Group Charity trustees are looking at charitable funding for this work.

We have agreed to support the EA in a Defra pilot scheme called Landscape Recovery. This involves the re-wilding of water courses, for example the construction of new ponds, re-connecting flood plains and leaky dams. The first meeting of this project with the EA, flood group members and 20 landowners from the catchment takes place on 28th March. The Flood Group have agreed to support and administer this project. Information from Defra remains a bit sketchy, so we are still a bit cautious about wholehearted support and have our own questions.

We met with the Clerk of the Course at Brampton Racecourse. Like us they suffered considerable damage because of the 2020 flood. We discussed areas of common interest including slowing the flow of flood water upstream of the villages.

The Flood Group AGM open to the public will take place on May 10th at 19.00.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group report for February 2022

A little more volunteer work has been done near the ford in Alconbury Weston. Volunteer work will be limited from mid-March because fish spawning and water birds nesting.

The brook is running too fast at the moment, but we hope to have one more volunteer event before early March. We now have permits to remove silt from where road drains are depositing sand and silt into the brook. Also work on the gardens of High Street properties in Alconbury and Alconbury Weston.

We have a small yellow boat for work in the brook when safe!

Generally we are very positive about the work done by the EA since Christmas particularly in Alconbury Weston and downstream of the A1 flyover. Some debris still to collect. The flood group has volunteered to do this but we await a reply. Between Polecat Lane and Alconbury Weston there is still some work to do, but volunteers could do this.

The Flood Group committee have met and agreed to hold an AGM in May, which will be open to volunteers and the community generally.

On behalf of the Alconbury communities and having consulted the PCs, the Flood Group have signed off the new improved brook CCTV agreement with the EA.

Progress is being made with the Flood Alleviation modelling. On request from the EA the Flood Group have consulted the PCs with regard to (statutory) access arrangements for a future public consultation. The main issue will be ensuring everyone, including those without internet access, is aware and people in the communities with special needs will be able to participate if they wish.

A disappointment has been that LENs, who had been very positive about funding all of our upstream NFM, have withdrawn their offer. They had wrongly assumed that some of the land was in Northamptonshire. As Cambridgeshire does not subscribe to LENS, we do not qualify for financial assistance from LENS. Much effort has been spent this month looking at alternatives to overcome this problem. We are seeking alternative sources of funding. Charles Krolik-Root has organised a meeting in early March with Think Communities to assist with this.

Before seeking funding elsewhere, we have had to ask landowners to ask the RPA to calculate any losses that may occur as a result of us installing NFM. This is likely to be quite small, but we are committed to ensuring farmers will not lose out. We now have potential projects on 4 farms and we hope to have feedback through the landowners from the RPA shortly.

Through countryside stewardship we have acquired free ADAS hydrology/NFM consultancy which will enable us to understand the optimum positions (on watercourses) for the projects we have agreed. We were pleased that 3 landowners have authorised us to have this work done. Reporting will occur in May/June which is in good time for construction in the summer/autumn. In the meantime, further design work has been done.

We remain vigilant. Some very high rainfalls have occurred previously in March and April. Our measurements suggest the soil is now full. We are measuring flow at Alconbury. There appears to be a small flow improvement, but our comparison may not be like for like.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group report for 20th January 2022

Since mid- December, (our brilliant) flood group volunteers have

  • Done additional clearance in the brook near the Heritage Bridge in Alconbury
  • Cleared 250m of undergrowth and brambles from banks near the ford in Alconbury Weston
  • Removed 2 more trees which had fallen across the brook near Polecat Lane
  • With the KP from the EA planted 750 trees at Grange Farm, Hammerton next to a new EA off-line storage pond. (41 volunteers!)
  • Culverts on school lane have been rodded by volunteers and are running better. The CC who owns the ditch have been informed that one of the culverts may have collapsed.

The EA completed most but not all of the bank maintenance in November. Those sections missed were discussed during a very helpful site visit with the EA Assets Manager  During the week starting 17/1 EA teams have undertaken a significant amount of additional bank clearance and will continue over the next 2 weeks providing the weather holds.

We have arranged to do some clearance ourselves which complements that done by the EA teams including the banks of riverside properties in the High Streets of both Alconbury and Alconbury Weston. This is scheduled for the second week in February. To facilitate this the flood group have ordered a boat.

We now have third party insurance, and our volunteers are insured against personal accident.

Another farmer has agreed to have an off-line storage pond, together with some leaky dams on an Alconbury Brook tributary watercourse. The idb have give outline agreement to the work which is on a watercourse under their jurisdiction.  We hope that funding and consents will become available so that work can be done in May/June.

Further upstream two flood group members had a preliminary meeting with another farmer who has given us permission to look around his farm for suitable places for some small holding structures on 26/1. We will be discussing funding with LENs.

We have had an update from the EA with detailed plans for an NFM system on the East side of Vinegar Hill. The is a slight delay while this is modelled but the project could be installed in late spring/summer 2022.

The EA modelling contract with Jacobs has finally been signed off and work has begun. At some point the consultant will visit the Alconbury’s to understand the lie of the land, and the opportunities which exist given the strong commitment from the communities involved.

Flood Group Newsletter 2, part funded by Alconbury Parish Council will be distributed between 17/1 and 26/1

An improved flood CCTV system will be operational soon. There remain some unanswered questions about fields of vision and distribution of passwords, but these should be resolved shortly.

It has been very dry, only 29mm of rain in the first three weeks of January, however we are certain that water in the brook is running away faster because of the better maintenance. Soil moisture varies but has been as low as 80% (our monitoring) in the last 2 weeks providing a small buffer for heavy rain. Long may it continue!! We now have portable flow monitoring equipment. On 18/1, the flow was about 0.1cubic meter/sec at the A ford and 0.095 cubic meters per second AW ford (in December 2020 the flow at Alconbury flyover was 94 cubic meters / second). The EA have invited the Flood Group to suggest two sites for permanent flow monitoring equipment.

Alconbury Brook Flood Group report for December 2021

During December, volunteers have cleared further sections of bank not done by EA contractors (see left) and discovered long forgotten benching (low shelf cut into bank). They have also done further clearance upstream of the heritage bridge to the old ford.

The EA have not yet returned to do work they had promised to do by Christmas but have re-visited the site to draw up a detailed specification and have now said that it will be done in January. This is all of the sections not done by the contractors including downstream to Labcorp (Covance) on the north bank, Brooklands Farm, improvements downstream of Alconbury Weston and near the ford in Alconbury Weston.

The FG have been told that their bid for funds from CCC has been successful. This will allow the purchase of safety equipment, additional tools, a small flat-bottomed boat and other items.

The EA have commissioned another off-line storage pond this time at Winnick. (not sure of the details but I believe it stores water from a significant ditch just north of Hamerton before it flows into Alconbury Brook.

Rusts Lane pumps have now been repaired.

The FG have now opened a bank account.

The FG has been working with the Land Enterprise Network (LENs) who channel money from large companies into environmental projects. We have made site visits to them to sites where landowners have agreed in principle for significant NFM including 2 off-line storage areas = 25,000 cubic meters, a refurbished pond and 5 leaky dams. Optimistic that LENs will pay for this work to be done @£50,000 starting April 2022

Community is finding info@alconburybrookfloodgroup.uk resulting in enquiries and offers of help.

In the last 3 months we have had 7 enquiries from people wishing to move to the villages and wanting information.

EA consultants (Jacobs) have now started work on modelling and evaluation of a major flood mitigation scheme after delays from heritage section of EA and then further negotiation with Jacobs about timescales. Still on track for public consultation summer 2022. Currently long list includes elements of previous plans plus FG reservoir proposals (Slow stretch and Store) and proposal for a 2-stage channel. Photograph above is an example of a 2-stage channel

FG has started to do soil sampling since soil capacity is as important a factor as rainfall in predicting flooding. Soil is now fairly full but earlier this month it could have absorbed most of the rain that caused flooding in December 2020.

Second newsletter will be distributed before the next Parish Council Meeting

January 8th is our next volunteer day, also volunteers are tree planting on (probably) January 15th. Equipment purchased with the CCC grant will allow us to do work in Alconbury Weston on January 8th.

 

Alconbury Brook Flood Group report for November 2021

Volunteers have now cleared 600m of brook bank and bed including most recently:

  • 100m Bank 750m downstream of the flyover
  • Bank just upstream of the flyover, both sides
  • Bank near the Heritage Bridge
  • 4 fallen trees between Alconbury and Alconbury Weston

The Environment Agency have carried out their annual maintenance of banks and reed spraying. In many places this has been done reasonably well but a number of stretches are less well done or have been missed altogether. We walked the brook from 800m downstream of Alconbury to Alconbury Weston with Chris Collin the EA manager. Chris Collin has committed to doing much of the outstanding bank clearance by Christmas, while Flood Group volunteers will do several other smaller sections.

An application for a grant has been made to the County Council for the Flood Group to clear banks adjacent to 2 and 6 High Street Alconbury and a brook bank common land strip adjacent to 2,4,6,8,10,12 and14 High Street Alconbury Weston.

The County Council have let us know that work will start on the Rusts Lane pumps on November 25th.

Volunteers dug out 4 grips on the School Lane ditch.

The Flood Group have adopted a 7 year plan which will be shared with Parish Councils as soon as possible for them to also adopt. 

The Flood Group have worked with several farmers upstream of Alconbury Weston. A plan including a number of leaky dams and off-line storage has been submitted to the internal drainage board for comment. Once all consents have been acquired the Flood Group hope to start work in January.

The Flood Group has a web-site (still being developed) and an email address: info@alconburybrookfloodgroup.uk.

The group will be circulating their first newsletter before the end of November to all residents in Alconbury, Alconbury Weston and Hamerton.

Temporary Test Dams TTD

The Flood group team are keen to take action to reduce flow upstream and will be testing out the concept of Temporary Test Dams TTD. 

The video shows a fallen treee that could be anchored to either site of the brook and act as a natural dam to encourage biodiversity as well as act as a dam during a flood event

We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details in the privacy policy and accept the service to view the translations.