Cross-boundary action group set up to reduce risk of flooding on Gloucestershire’s River Isbourne

Almost eight years ago to the day flooding devastated many parts of Gloucestershire. One of the rivers that broke its banks was the Isbourne which runs from Cleeve Hill, through Winchcombe and onto Evesham where it joins the Avon.

But while the floods of 2007 grow ever more distant a new action group has been formed to make sure the lessons of almost a decade ago are acted upon.

The Isbourne Catchment Group has been set up to look at how flood risk associated with the river and its tributaries could be better managed.

Plenty of villages set up flood groups in the wake of 2007 to improve community resilience when disaster strikes. But working alone all they can realistically do is seek to mitigate the impact of flooding.

The Isbourne effort aims to bring together people from all along the river to look at the causes of flooding and to figure out what steps can be taken to reduce the risk.

The river roams across local authority boundaries and therefore a cross boundary solution is needed: Any work undertaken in one area can have impacts for residents downstream.

Alan Bennett, a member of the Isbourne group from Winchcombe, said the positive impact intervention can have on rivers can already be seen locally.

“The analysis and work undertaken in the Stroud valleys is a good example of where small scale low cost interventions can be shown to have a significant impact on the watercourse,” he said.

Jeremy Williamson is chairing the group.

He said: “Whilst the Isbourne is quite a unique catchment in that it flows due north and has a history of summer flooding, there is plenty of evidence that small interventions can significantly impact on the flow of the river.”

Meanwhile Chris Short, a course leader at the University of Gloucestershire, is also involved in the project.

He said: “The uni is very keen to engage with this community group as we believe that we can bring considerable experience and resource to help address some of the long term challenges of the Isbourne catchment.

“Subject to securing funding we will be working extensively with the farming community, landowners and FWAG (the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) to understand what are the best interventions for all parties.”

The Isbourne is a tributary of the River Avon.

It is approximately 14 miles long and its source originates on Cleeve Hill.

This article was originally published in the Gloucestershire Echo on July 19th 2015.

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