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Installation by Environment Agency of natural defences could make flooding in Stansted a thing of the past

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One of the main roads through Stansted which is vulnerable to flooding could be about to benefit from natural land defences put in place by the Environment Agency.

Campaigners have been working behind the scenes for several years to secure funding for Natural Flood Measures (NFMs) that could prevent a recurrence of the February 2014 deluge which left homes and businesses in Lower Street under feet of water.

Discussions between Stansted's volunteer flood group, landowners, the parish council and the Environment Agency are nearing a conclusion that could ultimately prevent Ugley Brook from bursting its banks in the heart of the village.

Lower Street under water during the 2014 floods (29479057)
Lower Street under water during the 2014 floods (29479057)

This, combined with property protection schemes offered free of charge to homeowners and businesses via the Environment Agency, would signal an end to fears of further flooding.

Iain Rankin, a flood warden and Lower Street resident, said: "There are a lot of positives at the moment and there should be some funding available soon for natural flood measures.

"It could be something as simple as creating dams with trees wedged in and secured, or a bund at the bottom of a field to release water in a controlled manner.

"We have identified lots of areas with the Environment Agency for these kinds of things and they're hopeful of getting a proposal in by April."

Mr Rankin cited an example where natural defences had helped to prevent flooding in Finchingfield after beavers were reintroduced into the wild. Their dam-building skills had proved extremely effective and for the first time in years the village had not flooded.

"These things have made a big difference, and hopefully within the next year we'll have similar schemes in place, which is good news."

An early-warning flood alarm is already in place at the culvert at the end of Lower Street, near the youth centre, to alert flood wardens to rising water levels.

The rainfall from Storm Dennis on the weekend of February 15-16 had not threatened the village, Mr Rankin said, as debris collected by the culvert grille had been cleared and levels did not reach the trigger point.

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