A fresh approach addresses local flood management in Mid Suffolk


A series of natural flood protection measures are currently being put in place around Debenham in Mid Suffolk.

Local land owners are joining forces with local organisations including Suffolk County Council, Environment Agency, Essex & Suffolk Rivers Trust and East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board to deliver the Deben Holistic Water Project. This work offers a new approach to managing water resources that flow through the area.

Through constructive discussions, several landowners showed a willingness to work with the council and the other organisations to develop natural flood management features on their land, upstream from where flooding often occurs, using their knowledge of water flow and land heights.

Records of historic flooding in Debenham go back to 1816, with the most notable recent floods occurring during the 1990s. Three tributaries of the River Deben converge in the village where the river is constrained by historic development. Traditional approaches to flood management have previously been modelled for consideration but have always proved too costly with estimations in the region of £10-12 million. Over 30 properties are at significant risk of flooding with another 240 at risk during severe rainfall conditions.

The features built to date are of different sizes, but all designed to intercept water during heavy rainfall holding it in a pond or small reservoir, releasing water into the river once levels drop. The largest protection feature, located at Hill House Farm, covers 0.26 hectares and will include permanent water plus space for flood water. It will create a wonderful new watery habitat for plants and wildlife in years to come.

So far, three features have been installed at Debenham Hall, Aspall Hall and Hill House Farm, funded by the local flood levy, Suffolk County Council and the Essex & Suffolk Rivers Trust. The work to install each feature was undertaken by the East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board. It is hoped that more similar features will be installed upstream on Debenham in the next few years, subject to funds being available.

As well as reducing the risk of local flooding, these features will help to reduce the amount of sediment and pollutants getting into the river, and provide new habitats.

Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, Councillor Matthew Hicks said:

“We hope that similar projects to these in Debenham can be delivered in other parts of Suffolk that are vulnerable to flooding. This work is being undertaken in partnership with local landowners who are in a position to offer suitable land sites. The aim is to achieve a level of flood protection that will result in significantly reducing the risk of flooding around the village. This project really benefits the whole community and I want to thank all the landowners – without their goodwill none of this would be possible.”

For more information on this project, visit www.greensuffolk.org/hwmp.