Natural Flood Management

Natural Flood Management is an emerging technique that aims to ‘slow the flow’ in small and medium catchments. It is best suited to streams and small rivers where a portfolio of roughly 30 'leaky ponds', woody barriers and willow structures can slow and store the passage of water and reduce flood peaks. New tree planting can also be used to good effect. 

The approach is gaining recognition as a cost-effective technique that can be used either on its own, or as part of a package of flood management measures.

Pete Kerr designed and project managed phase 2 of the BELFORD Natural Flood Management Scheme with the Environment Agency. Other schemes worked on include Hepscott, Powburn and Howden-le-Wear.

Research by

Newcastle University suggests that flood peaks can be reduced by between 15% and 30%, although it should be emphasised that this technique is best suited to ‘medium scale’ floods rather extreme events.
Costs can be 10% of that of more traditional ‘flood barrier’ schemes. As well as flood reduction, the leaky ponds and other interventions also trap sediment and nutrients and create valuable habitat.

Pete Kerr, the Director of Riverworks, is a Chartered Civil Engineer and has been at the forefront of Natural Flood Management design and build for the last 10 years.  Pete led the delivery of the Belford Natural Flood Management scheme with the Environment Agency.

Riverworks have completed Natural Flood Management Schemes at the following locations: 

- Alwinton

​- Netherton 

​- Bonnyrigg

​- Bothal Burn 

​Riverworks are also currently responsible for maintaining the Natural Flood Management Schemes at Powburn and Hepscott. 

Riverworks was commissioned in April 2018 by Natural England and the Northumberland National Park Authority to identify and develop Natural Flood Management options for the Upper Coquet Catchment (from Rothbury upstream). These feasibility studies were used to support a Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier Application. 

Our services

  • Site walkovers and development of concept design
  • Discussions with farmers and landowners and securing permissions
  • Design and delivery of schemes including 'leaky ponds' woody debris barriers, willow structures, tree planting
  • Project management and close contact with the community
  • Construction of features
  • Health and safety management including CDM requirements
  • Maintenance of NFM schemes