Novel approach to flood control will see return of beavers to county estate

PUBLISHED: 14:32 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:32 23 November 2018

Beavers like this one will be returning to Essex after 400 years. Picture: RUSSELL SAVORY

Beavers like this one will be returning to Essex after 400 years. Picture: RUSSELL SAVORY


Beavers will be returning to Essex after 400 years in an effort to reduce flooding in Finchingfield and the surrounding area.

A pair of beavers will be introduced to an historic estate near Finchingfield next year as part of a natural flood management scheme for East Anglia led by the Environment Agency which is working with the Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust and the Essex Wildlife Trust.

Beavers have not been found in Essex since they were hunted to extinction in Britain, although they have been reintroduced in small numbers in other parts of the country in recent years.

Archie Ruggles-Brise, owner of Spains Hall Estate, where the beavers will settle, said: “We have experienced first-hand the disruption caused by flooding in Finchingfield so we are excited to be able to contribute to this novel approach to reducing flood risk. The added attraction of being able to pit nature against man to see who ‘does it better’ will be a rare chance to learn and adapt our approach. We hope the project will also focus a spotlight on our little corner of rural Essex.”

The beavers will have a territory covering 10 acres and a boundary fence to keep them safe.

A second element of the scheme will involve man-made natural flood management measures being introduced on a separate strand of Finchingfield Brook at the estate. As well as helping to slow the flow after heavy rain, the scheme should create wetland that will release water in drier periods.

The Environment Agency’s Matt Butcher said: “Natural flood management can be a great way to reduce flood risk for communities where traditional flood defences are not appropriate.

“Introducing leaky dams along Finchingfield Brook should slow the flow and reduce flood peaks downstream while improving habitat in this fantastic landscape.”

Darren Tansley, river catchment co-ordinator for Essex Wildlife Trust, said: “Working with the Government, other conservationists and a forward thinking landowner to reduce flood risk in Finchingfield is an ideal opportunity. But the partners that eclipse us all are surely the beavers; natural engineers of our freshwater environment that we hope will trigger an explosion of biodiversity.”

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