Battling back to beat fires and floods above Stalybridge

Stalybridge is at the heart of a new environmental pilot project to reduce flooding and restore peatland habitats following the devastating moors blaze of 2018.

Funded by the Environment Agency and being delivered by The University of Manchester and Moors for the Future, the aim of the project is to utilise moorland and mosses to capture carbon, restore damaged peatland and slow the flow of flood water through the construction of ‘leaky barriers.’

Ten large stone dams have been built along the moorland by placing boulders from a local quarry at selected pinch-points along the watercourse. 

These, together with 143 peat dams, 29 small stone dams and 20 timber dams can hold back over 3,000 cubic metres of storm water and help stop flooding. The dams have already proved their worth by holding back heavy rainwaters seen in recent weeks.

Evidence from the projects is now being gathered to fully understand the benefits of Natural Flood Risk Management (NFM) and identify other locations that may benefit from similar schemes.


NFM works taking place

David Brown, Flood Risk Senior Advisor for the Environment Agency, said: “We’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects that flooding can have on local communities. Natural flood risk management techniques are a way that we can help to reduce this alongside more traditional approaches.

“We hope the success of this project will be a catalyst for even more of these measures to be installed across Greater Manchester catchments.”

Matt Scott-Campbell of Moors for the Future Partnership said: “The successful peatland restoration project we have led on Stalybridge in collaboration with the landowners, the Environment Agency and The University of Manchester is a really important and positive step towards the recovery of the damaged peatland habitats on the site following the devastating wildfire in 2018. It is also a valuable step towards reducing flood risk to the local community whilst delivering significant, multiple benefits for nature.”


Firefighters responding to a blaze on the moors. Photo: Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

View the Stalybridge project in action in a video at the top of the page. 

Main image:

One of the stone dams created at Stalybridge. 

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