Pont Dafydd Flood Management Project

The section of the River Clwyd at Pont Dafydd near St Asaph had been a cause for concern for the Clwyd & Conwy Rivers Trust, Environment Agency Wales and the landowner for some time.

When the river flooded, its steep soil banks would be eroded, leading to sedimentation. Under the Water Framework Directive, all surface waters in the UK and indeed the whole of the EU must achieve ‘good status’ by 2015 and this section on the River Clwyd risked failing this test. Moreover, the landowner was concerned that, with every flood, he was losing more grazing land.

Working with the Trust, Environment Agency Wales came up with a plan. The steep soil banks of the river would be reprofiled to reduce their gradients. The new bank would be protected using wooden boards and, higher up, coir matting. Finally, the new bank would be sown with grass seeds and planted with some 1,350 native trees such as alder, ash, downy birch, goat willow, grey willow, hawthorn and blackthorn.

The trees would aid infiltration of surface water run-off nutrient and thus reduce diffuse pollution and improve water quality. In this case, the trees also played a key role in binding the new river bank together thus making it more stable.

The scheme, carried out in 2012, was a low cost operation in river terms. £21,000 was provided by Environment Agency Wales and £3,000 by the Clwyd & Conwy Rivers Trust, while the Woodland Trust/Coed Cymru provided free trees and much of the labour was provided free of charge by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV).

Following completion of the project, Roger Thomas, chairman of the Rivers Trust, said he hoped that it could be a model for future work and greater cooperation between the partners in schemes that can help flood control and in particular, bank erosion.  He also went on to say that when landowners can be persuaded to sacrifice a few metres of land to create riverine buffer strips, the planting of trees and bushes not only help stabilise banks but also create improved habitat for fish and invertebrates as well as river corridors for other wildlife such as water voles and otters. 

The badly eroded bank on the Pont Dafydd strech of the river prior to the start of the project

The bank being re-profiled using a mechanical digger.

The protective coir matting being laid.

All photographs courtesy of Steve Kind.