BritishFlora

Flood Alleviation

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Courtesy of BritishFlora

BritishFlora helps rescue lost London river from subterranean obscurity in award winning flood prevention.

In the 1930's, engineers at the then Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich diverted a flood-prone section of the River Quaggy through an underground culvert so that new housing could beQuaggy built. In fine weather, the river was contained. But after heavy rainfall, the Quaggy became a dangerous torrent that flooded many times- as recently as 1992 when severe damage was caused to low-lying areas of Lewisham.

In 2002, the Environment Agency commissioned work to begin on the £3.8m Quaggy Flood Alleviation Plan that would release the river from its underground culvert in certain areas and, crucially, create a large surface ‘bowl’ capable of holding 85,000 cubic metres of flood water - enough to fill 35 Olympic Swimming pools.

The flood bowl was to be sited at Sutcliffe Park, a 35 acre public amenity area that would be transformed from a drab open play area into a carefully landscaped mix of wetlands, reed beds and wildflower meadows offering eye-catching walkways for visitors and a variety of habitats for wildlife.

BritishFlora had both design input and advised on all species choice, seed mixes, planting densities, urban wildfowl plant predation and finished water levels. Local seed and plant propagules were collected from the area 2 years before work commenced to ensure local provenance and genetic integrity.

Sutcliffe Park was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 2006, also winning the prestigious Living Wetlands Award in 2007, run jointly by the RSPB and The Chartered Institution of Water and Environment Management (CIWEM).

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