Paul Maynard MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, has visited two new wetland creation projects in Thornton, to learn how they will naturally help to prevent flooding in the local area.

Phil Robson, Chair and Tom Myerscough, General Manager of Wyre Rivers Trust, met with Paul Maynard MP at Hillylaid Pool Wetlands, Hillhouse Technology Enterprise Zone, to discuss flooding events that have taken place in the area in the last five years and to find out more about nature-based, holistic solutions that will help to alleviate the issues.

The two wetland projects have been delivered by the Wyre Rivers Trust in partnership with Wyre Council, United Utilities, the Environment Agency, NPL Estates and McDermott Homes, and are part of the Thornton Flood Risk Resilience Project, which has been funded by United Utilities, the Environment Agency and received further funding from the European Union, via the Natural Course project (EU LIFE Integrated Projects, project number LIFE14IPE/UK/027).

Historically, the area which is a low lying area of land between the River Wyre and the Irish Sea, was dominated by wetlands, ponds and lowland mires. In recent decades the area has seen intensive development and drainage of its wetland sites which has exacerbated water quality and flooding issues, putting over 2,500 houses at risk of fluvial and surface water flooding.

To help reduce this risk, the Wyre Rivers Trust is developing a network of wetland sites in the area and have delivered a wide range of Natural Flood Management interventions across the Wyre catchment area in the last three years.

The Hillylaid Pool Wetlands were constructed in September 2020 and with the help of the local community, were planted with a wide range of native wetland plants this spring. They will help to alleviate flooding in the area by providing additional storage for peak flows during heavy rainfall events. They will also provide additional benefits by improving the water quality, creating valuable wetland habitats which support increased biodiversity where local flora and fauna will thrive, storing carbon helping to combat climate change, and slowly releasing water during drought events.

Paul Maynard MP, commented, “I was highly impressed with the work that has been undertaken by the Wyre Rivers Trust, to no only enhance nature and wildlife, but by their important and often unnoticed work in protecting homes and businesses from flooding.

“The wetlands I visited were stunning, including one I drive past most days without knowing it was there. The Wyre Rivers Trust are a highly professional organisation doing some fantastic work locally. I will continue to support their work in any way I can.”

Tom Myerscough, General Manger, Wyre Rivers Trust said, “The Thornton Flood Risk Resilience project is a great example of how collaboration between statutory agencies, local authorities, water companies, developers, businesses and Rivers Trusts can deliver Natural Flood Management projects with a wide range of benefits for the environment and local communities.

“The wetlands which have been created as part of this project will help to alleviate flood risk, improve water quality, increase biodiversity and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. They will also provide a valuable space for nature in the urban sprawl of the Fylde Coast. It is hoped that these projects will act as a catalyst for the delivery of other urban Natural Flood Management projects in the Wyre catchment.”

Councillor Roger Berry, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhood Service and Community Safety at Wyre Council said, “This is a project that Wyre Council is really proud to be involved in. These wetlands will not only alleviate flooding but also have a great significance for the environment and the local community and highlights the importance of partnership working.”

Katie Duffy from United Utilities said: “Solving flooding is not something that cannot be achieved in isolation. Collaboration is key. This project is a prime example of what can be achieved when expertise from all flood risk management agencies come together to find a solution that not only helps protect homes against flooding but are also environmentally sustainable to deliver.”

Mark Wilkinson from McDermott Homes said: “McDermott Homes recognise the importance of creating sustainable developments and when presented with the opportunity to get involved in delivering this innovative flood management scheme we were glad to assist with the construction of the scheme at White Carr Lane, to support flood resilience.  The completed scheme will not only provide flood relief for the local area but forms important habitats for wildlife and an attractive greenspace for the local community”