RESIDENTS and business people in rural communities are invited to share information with officials working on a major flood management and environmental scheme.

The £2.1million Weardale Natural Flood Management Demonstrator project is one of the country’s leading landmark flood alleviation projects.

It has long term ambitions to deliver natural features across an 100km2 area of landscape in a bid to reducing the risk of flooding for around 140 properties, encouraging carbon capture, improving water quality and creating a haven for wildlife to thrive.

The Environment Agency will host drop-in information events at Cowshill and Lanehead Village Hall on Tuesday, September 24, Stanhope Community Centre on Wednesday, September 25 and Westgate Village Hall on Thursday, September 26 all from 2.30pm to 7pm.

The events will be an opportunity for the Environment Agency to capture local knowledge of how flooding affects the residents and business owners of Weardale and talk to residents about the project and how it is progressing.

The project covers Stanhope Burn, Rookhope Burn, Killhope Burn, Ireshopeburn and Middlehope Burn.

John Carrick, a local landowner and agricultural contractor, said: “An issue like flooding is in the public interest and can affect anybody.

"The events are a good way for residents to find out the intentions of the Environment Agency and what this scheme will mean for the local community.

“I think where Government money is being spent residents should know what’s going on in their region and learn about what the project is all about.

“The project gives the landowner a chance to do some good in the water catchment by retaining water to prevent flooding downstream in periods of heavy rain, as we live in a very high risk rainfall area.”

Kirsty Hardy, flood and coastal risk management advisor at the Environment Agency, said: “Our project is looking at how NFM could reduce flood risk in several locations across Weardale and to assess what this could mean to the local communities.

“We are working with landowners within the area to install features that will retain and temporarily hold back water.

“Just to put things into context, the water we are looking to hold back is the equivalent of one-hundred Olympic sized swimming pools, which is a great deal of potential flood water that could impact upon residents and businesses.

“The reason for installing NFM features and introducing the scheme is to hopefully prevent the water entering the water course, which could in turn decrease flood risk downstream. If successful the project could show that natural flood management has the ability to reduce flood risk for local towns and villages.”

The scheme is supported by Forestry Commission England, Natural England and North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership and is part of a national Defra-funded natural flood management project.