Bourn Flood Risk Management Scheme

Closes 31 Jan 2027

Opened 2 Aug 2023

Overview

  Page created 2 August 2023 - last updated 8 April 2024.   

 The Bourn Flood Risk Management Scheme

 For the Lower Rea scheme please see the Rea Catchment Partnership webpage.

Flooding at Stirchley in 2016 

     Flooding at Stirchley in 2016                            

Background to the Flood Risk Management Scheme

The Bourn is a heavily urbanised watercourse situated to the south of Birmingham City, running through Bournville and Stirchley before it meets the River Rea. The nature of the catchment is such that the onset of fluvial flooding following intense storms can be rapid, with encroachment into the floodplain. Flooding in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2018 impacted several communities throughout Birmingham, including Bournville and Stirchley. The devastating and widespread impact of the 2018 flood event, across communities in Birmingham, can be seen in the following short video Final May 2018 Birmingham Flooding.MOV. With anticipated climate change impacts and an increasing urban population, we are likely to see an increase in both the likelihood and impact of similar events in the future. 

Recent Flooding in the Birmingham Area - Rea Catchment Partnership

Catchment Overview

The overview map shows the two main study areas. The Bourn scheme has been designed for the protection of the Bournville and Stirchley area and does not support development in the Rea Valley Urban Quarter and Digbeth. The Lower Rea Scheme, which is flood storage at Calthorpe Park, is designed to reduce risk to Edgbaston, Highgate and Digbeth but there is a significant funding gap with this scheme.

Catchment overview of the Bourne and lower Rea

Proposed Scheme Details

The scheme aims to reduce flood risk to areas that remain at risk in The Bourn catchment by constructing flood water storage areas at Manor Farm Park, Weoley Hill Park and Valley Parkway. The aim will be that  in the event of heavy rainfall or flooding, these storage areas will accumulate storm waters to slow the flow of the river to reduce the risk of flooding in urban areas downstream. The storage areas will only hold flood water during significant flood events such as those seen in 2016 and 2018, most of the time they can be used as they are now by the surrounding communities. A new planning requirement is that every development needs to deliver a minimum of 10% Biodiversity Net Gain so it is our intention to not only minimise harming biodiversity but to actively contribute to its enhancement.  Other areas are being investigated separately, such as Highgate and Digbeth on the Lower Rea and also Kings Norton and Northfield on the Upper Rea. 

Flood Mapping

The below flood map extract is from our updated river model and shows the draft baseline outputs for two flood scenarios on the Bourn Catchment. We are continuing this work over the coming months to represent different flood scenarios and improve our understanding of the flood risk. We will share further flood scenario maps representing the existing flood risk when these are available. We will also be aiming to carry out options testing to better understand the benefits of the flood storage areas and to inform the outline design. The flood modelling aids us in demonstrating the necessity for protective measures by providing clear evidence of the potential risks and impacts posed by flooding, as seen in the map below. The below flood map extract is from our updated river model and shows the draft baseline outputs for two flood scenarios on the Bourn Catchment. The blue outline shows the 1% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) event and the pink the 0.1% AEP. This is the probability that specific event will be exceeded in any given year.

Flood Map

Why the need for this scheme?

The necessity for implementing this scheme arises from our current modelling, which indicates that approximately 200 residents and 100 businesses face the adverse impacts of flooding in the community. Without intervention, these individuals and enterprises are vulnerable to significant disruptions and damages caused by large scale flooding events as seen in 2008 and 2016. Therefore, this scheme is indispensable as it offers crucial protection against the devastating impacts of flooding, safeguarding livelihoods, properties, and the overall well-being of community members.

Images of the Concept Designs for the Flood Storage Reservoirs (concept being our first ideas taken from the flood modelling data to its maximum input) These designs are subject to change and are only early concepts(ideas).   These show the type of works that are being considered but are not representative of the final scale and size of the measures.  Throughout the projects programming these designs will be refined until we reach a final design option.  As they change, we will update the designs and share these with you.

Valley Park Concept Design Map

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Weoley Park Concept Design Map

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Manor Farm Park Concept Design Map

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Funding Gap

The preferred option must be economically viable; the benefits outweigh the costs and affordable; funding is in place, at each stage of the business case, this is usually a combination of Government Grant in Aid and further contributions.

The scheme is estimated to cost in excess of £15m for 3 flood storage areas. We can attract some Government Grant in Aid funding, but third-party contributions are also likely to be required to deliver the scheme. We will be working with the community and partners over the coming months to further develop our funding and engagement plan.

Timescales – what we are doing and when.

We are currently working with partners to develop an Outline Business Case to set out the case for investment for the preferred option and carry out the appraisal work including surveys and outline design. This is likely to take a total of 18 months, with a further 24 months for a Full Business Case which includes detailed design and planning, along with appointing the preferred contractor. The current aim is to start construction in Summer / Autumn 2026. assuming all funding is in place

Current Project Activities

We are currently working with our partners and key stakeholders to progress the Outline Business Case and outline design for the scheme. We have been focusing on the following areas: 

  • Completion of the baseline river model to help provide more detail on flood risk.
  • Ongoing concept design of the proposed flood defences. 
  • Desk top studies and specifications have been produced for critical site surveys including ground investigation, topographical surveys, and structural surveys.  
  • Environmental and ecological surveys have been completed and are now under review.

Timetable of the projects scope (This is subject to change and progress timescales as the   design stages are reached).

Timetable of the projects scope

Stage

Dates

Status

Concept Designs

Sep-23 

Complete

This involves reviewing the maximum amount of water that could be stored in the proposed areas and understanding what structures would be required for this to be possible.

This is when engineering drawings are first produced and shows a baseline design to improve upon, including capturing information on existing services, materials that could be used, risks and opportunities.

 

 

Modelling- Baseline Update and Review

Feb-24

Complete

This involves updating and gaining approval of the flood model for the study area. The flood model only takes flooding from rivers into account (not sewers or surface water as these are managed by Severn Trent Water and Local Authorities, who we work closely with) and covers a wider area than the project and involves reviewing flow conditions, structures such as bridges, culverts and screens and the channel conditions (shape, materials etc) to make sure the model reacts how it is expected to based on observed conditions.

This helps understand the conditions in the area before the project and what properties, businesses and infrastructure such as roads are at risk during particular flood conditions.

 

 

Modelling- Design Scenarios 

Feb 24-May 24 

In Progress

This involves using the baseline model to understand what would happen if flood defences were constructed. This includes looking at different options for sizes of storage areas with different levels of flooding to ensure as many properties as possible are protected as often as possible.

A key objective is to ensure no properties are at higher risk of flooding after the project, therefore this process aims to maximise the protection for all.

 

 

Environmental Baseline Surveys

Spring/ Summer 2024

In Progress

These surveys aim to understand the current environmental conditions, both within the three park and in the wider area. This includes surveys to understand habitats, vegetation, presence of protected species such as bats and badgers and assessment of the quality of the rivers from an ecological perspective.

 

These surveys are currently ongoing as they often need to be undertaken at specific times of the year. This information will then be used during the outline and detailed design to identify opportunities for environmental improvements, including to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements. 

   

Ground Investigation Work- Surveys

Feb 24-Mar 24

Starting Soon

Ground investigation is how we find out both what is below the surface and how the water and materials behave. We do this in a number of ways, before we even break the surface of the ground non-intrusive surveys are undertaken to try and understand the profile of the bedrock and also to locate any services that may be present such as drains or electricity cables.

 

 

Ground Investigation Work- On site work

Apr 24-Jul 24 

Future

The main ground investigation work involves drilling boreholes and digging trial pits in various locations to understand the soil and rock types and the level of groundwater. This is key to understanding what can be constructed and allows us to understand the strength and characteristics of the soil.

The onsite work is likely to take around 3 weeks per location, completing one area before moving onto the next, so only small areas will be under construction at any time. We will also have a small welfare unit onsite during the work for the team to rest.

The borehole rigs drive steel tubes into the ground to collect samples of soil before switching to a tungsten or diamond encrusted drilling bit which is rotated with re-circulating water flush to core the bedrock – in this case to a maximum depth of 15.00m.  These cores are then examined by specialist engineering geologists. In a few locations small trial holes will also be dug by excavator so that engineers can examine the soils in-situ.

Each borehole will be infilled after information is gathered and surfaces reinstated like for like. You might spot some small steel plates concreted to the ground- these are monitoring points which will be inspected, and data gathered every month to understand changes with the seasons.

 

 

Outline Design 

Late spring  24-summer  24 

Future

The Outline Design aims to produce a design that provides the desired level of protection and can be constructed. This updates the concept drawings to show indicative arrangements and dimensions of the structures but does not yet include the finer details such as landscaping.

This uses the information from the modelling and Ground Investigation to update the concept designs to account for what water we need to store (modelling) and what is able to be constructed based on the ground conditions (Ground Investigation). The expectation is that reduces the size of structures from the maximum to the required sizing. Other surveys such as ecology and geomorphology (river conditions) will also feed into this, along with feedback from the community.

During this stage updated drawings and visualisations will be produced and we will be planning additional community drop in and focus groups to gain input and ideas on the refined proposals.

 

 

Costing and Economics 

Autumn 2024

Future

The outline design is then priced by our contractors and cost management team, to ensure we are getting good value for money and that is affordable. We also compare the benefits the project will deliver with this cost. The benefits delivered is calculated using the number of homes and businesses protected, along with costs associated with damage and disruption caused by flooding. This also includes things such as road closures, emergency services, risk to life and mental health costs associated with flooding. This is known as the cost benefit ratio and must be above 1 (i.e. benefits greater than costs) for the project to proceed.

This process will inform areas such as if we need to obtain additional budget, or if the level of protection needs to be reviewed.

 

 

Gateway 2 Business Case Activities Approval

Winter 24-25

Future

Budget for Environment Agency projects is made available in a phased approach. Therefore this stage involves gaining sign off and release of funds for the next stage by review panels and senior managers.

In order to obtain sign off, we need to confirm have a feasible and buildable solution, that we can afford to put in place and is cost beneficial. Therefore all the activities up until this point aim to reduce the risks in these various areas so we have a good idea of what we can implement to manage the flood risk.

 

 

Detailed Design and Pre-Construction Activities including Planning 

Spring 25 – End 26

Future

This stage is when the outline designs get the next level of detail in order to ensure the proposals meet all required standards, align with all the key design criteria (such as providing the correct level of protection) and are the most beneficial solution for the project.

This includes building in the detail associated with footpaths, fencing, materials, environmental improvements and how we will actually build the structures. This is the key stage for community consultation- we can work together to plan improvements alongside our work that are beneficial for everyone.

This stage also involves applying for planning permission and formal consultation with the community- however by this stage there will have been a number of opportunities to get involved and the proposals will be familiar to many.

The business case will also be updated and approval obtained ahead of starting construction.

 

 

Construction 

End 26 – Autumn 28

Future

The details of the construction phase will be developed once the designs are finalised. These will be communicated as part of the consultations and the community will be regularly updated on progress and any changes to programme and working areas.

We will also be looking for opportunities to work with the community during the construction phase- on previous projects we have worked with schools and community groups to undertake tree planting, helped facilitate artwork to enhance the landscape and refurbished footpaths and provided signage.

 

 

Next Steps

The key next steps for the project are as follows: 

  • Sharing further information with the community throughout early 2024.
  • Ground investigation and site survey work, due to start in early Spring 2024.  
  • Ongoing design of the scheme, including more detailed engineering and landscaping designs. 

Future Public Engagement

We want to keep working closely with the community and key stakeholders and are keen to engage with you throughout the project. We will share more detailed information about the scheme at the following key stages.

  • Once design and landscaping options have been further developed.
  • Prior to submission of the planning application.
  • Prior to starting construction on site.

We will provide regular updates about the scheme through our newsletters and online information page. Details of how to sign up to our newsletter are below.

Community Engagement

 As the project progresses, we will be organising community wide drop-in sessions, specific focused workshops, and engagement about key milestones in the scheme along with informational events to maintain a transparent and inclusive approach. We encourage that the community stays involved, and we welcome your input as it is integral to the success of the flood reduction and environmental initiatives in the Bourn area. Please contact us if you are a group and would like us to come visit you and your members to discuss this scheme in more detail.

Additional images  

Landscape drawings for the Flood Storage Areas taken from an extract from the River Rea Landscape Visioning. Please note that these drawings are subject to change but provide some good ideas and opportunities for environmental enhancements in the park areas.

The visualisation drawings were created, with partners, as part of a wider Rea vision in 2022 and reflect what the environment concept might look like.

Visualisation 3D Designs for the Flood Storage Reservoirs (these drawings are subject to change) taken from an extract from the River Rea report landscape plan.

Visualisation drawings for Weoley Park, Valley Park and Manor Farm Park

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Opportunities for Parkland Enhancement 

The scheme gives a once in a generation opportunity to provide funds to help to enhance the parkland environments in the area. This could include nature-based solutions in various areas including Ley Hill recreational park in the Upper Bourn catchment (on Griffins Brook) resulting in natural flood management measures to reduce flows from dominant surface water flow routes. There are opportunities to re-naturalise the Griffins Brook through Manor Farm Park (currently perched) and lower artificially high banks that currently inhibit connection with the floodplain in lower sized flood events.

This work could include increased areas of habitat and enhanced functioning of natural processes, requiring minimal maintenance. Increased connectivity between watercourse and floodplain encouraging more natural sediment management and enhanced biodiversity opportunities. Creation of flood plain meadow will result in improved soil composition for improved routing of water and increased species diversity. This could also include additional planting of trees (where appropriate) leading to increased interception, carbon sequestration and support in reducing the urban heat island effect.

There is also the potential to improve cycle and footpath networks and to remove barriers in the watercourse. Weir removal benefits all aspects of aquatic ecology, including recovery of the riverbed and banks, and development of a more diverse habitat. A greater diversity of fish and invertebrate species is documented both up and downstream following weir removal.

Addressing key Concerns

Following recent feedback, we have noted several concerns raised by the community, and we want to address them directly: Here are just some of the responses to questions we have been asked so far, further questions and answers can be found in our F&QS section below.    

  • Loss of Local Parkland and Wildlife: There are no plans for significant loss of local parkland and wildlife. The flood storage areas will serve the essential function of managing floodwaters during periods of heightened risk, such as large-scale events like the 2016 flood, to the local community and safeguarding infrastructure. The area will only hold flood water during large flooding events outside of flood events, the parks will continue to be used as they currently are by the surrounding communities. Our goal is to minimize environmental impact while effectively managing flood risks, aiming for a minimum of 10% biodiversity net gain. Although some tree removal is inevitable for project completion, we are committed to planting replacements at a ratio of one lost tree to five new ones. Additionally, initiatives like planting flower meadows can further enhance biodiversity. We are also committed to explore other environmental improvement opportunities such as those identified in the Rea Landscape Visioning work. These plans can now be found on our scheme web page Bourn and Lower Rea Flood Risk Management Scheme - Environment Agency - Citizen Space (environment-agency.gov.uk)
  • Increased Flood Risk to Properties Bordering the Park: These parks provide strategic locations for implementing flood storage areas, crucial for protecting approximately 200 residential and 100 business properties in the Bournville and Stirchley area. In urban areas it is difficult to use traditional flood measures such as flood walls. The Environment Agency must complete a full flood risk assessment to ensure there is no increased risk of flooding to properties in the location of the scheme or above or below the scheme. 
  • Area of Choice for Future Flooding Events: The flood management for the whole of the catchment area has been separated into two projects. The Bourn scheme has been designed for the protection of the Bournville and Stirchley area and does not support development in the Rea Valley Urban Quarter and Digbeth. The Lower Rea Scheme which is flood storage at Calthorpe Park is designed to reduce risk to Highgate and Digbeth but there is a significant funding gap with this scheme.
  • Potential Reduction in House Values and Saleability: We understand concerns about property values, but studies have shown that well-implemented flood risk management schemes can enhance property values by reducing risk. Our aim will be to enhance the park landscapes and increase their biodiversity value whilst reducing flood risk to homes, communities and infrastructure including the local road and rail network.
  • Views of High Reservoir Mounds: While there may be changes to the landscape, we are committed to minimising visual impacts and preserving the character of our community to the greatest extent possible. The concept drawings referred to show the maximum size of embankment and amount of water that can be stored. The aim is to scale these works down, so we are getting the most benefit compared to the cost of the measures.
  • Insurance Costs and Insurability: Proper flood risk management can lead to more favourable insurance terms and ensure that properties remain insurable. On previously developed flood schemes we have no evidence to indicate that insurance costs have increased or that there has been a loss of the ability to insure. We will work closely with residents and insurance providers to address any concerns.
  • Lack of Communication with Directly Affected Residents: We understand why some residents may be frustrated with our communications and are committed to improving transparency and engagement moving forward. It is important to recognise that we are at an early stage in the process and have only just started engaging with the local community now that we are developing the designs. We welcome feedback and want to work closely with the community and key stakeholders and are keen to engage with affected residents and partners throughout the project.
  • Loss of Privacy to Rear Gardens: We will take measures to minimise impacts to residents' privacy during project implementation and design. We will always discuss any options with people that this will affect and thoroughly consider the needs and concerns of the surrounding community and residents throughout the design.
  • Exploratory Work and Disruption: We understand that exploratory work may cause inconvenience, but it is necessary for gathering essential data. We will strive to minimise disruption as much as possible and will work with the community around key events that are planned in the parks. The initial work will involve visual surveys of the parks followed by ground investigation work. The ground investigation work is planned from April and is expected to take around 2-3 weeks per park site. The work will take place Monday to Friday and will involve borehole drilling, which is a process used to create holes or wells in the ground. These boreholes are for groundwater extraction, geotechnical investigations, mineral exploration, or environmental monitoring. Samples of the subsurface materials may be collected at various depths for analysis. We will provide information to the community in advance and who they need to contact if they have any questions or concerns when this activity is happening.

Please feel free to submit any further questions to our dedicated inbox, details can be found below. Where we will be happy to answer any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We have produced an FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) document for this scheme, which you can read here.

FAQs

 

Updates to FAQ document in March 2024 - 

Amended questions 5

New questions 29, 30


Bourn and Lower Rea Flood Risk Management Scheme (FRMS) - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

1. Why are you doing the scheme?

Since the flooding in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2018 impacted several communities throughout the catchment. We are looking at developing a scheme in the area since The River Rea and its main tributaries (The Bourn and Bourn Brook), are heavily urbanised watercourses situated to the south of Birmingham City. The canalised, brick lined channels from Cannon Hill Park to the South of Digbeth pose a high-risk during flooding events as the flood waters have nowhere to go. Therefore, the construction of flood storage areas along the River Rea will provide an alternative area for the flood waters to gather in order to prevent such high river levels at times of heavy rain fall and reduced the risk of flooding in the urban areas.  

2. What are the key activities in the coming months?

We are at the outline design stage of the project. The key upcoming activities are:

Developing the design, including surveys and ground investigation, and reviewing landscape and environmental requirements.

Public engagement at final design stage and pre-construction phase.

Ongoing engagement with key stakeholders.

3. Will there be more engagement with the community as the scheme progresses?

We want to work closely with the community and key stakeholders and are keen to engage with you throughout the project. We will share more detailed information about the scheme at the following key stages. 

Once design and landscaping options have been further developed. 

Prior to submission of the planning application.

Prior to starting construction on site.

There are limitations to the extent of how much we can adapt the scheme based on feedback we receive.

4. Will my house be protected against flooding?

At this stage in the design process, we predict that the scheme, when complete, will reduce flood risk to approximately 270 residential and 365 commercial properties.

The FRMS will be designed to provide a 1 in 100 year Standard of Protection (SoP) (equivalent to a 1% chance of flooding at any given year), with an additional allowance for climate change.

5. Is the design finalised? Some areas don’t appear to be protected.

The design is not finalised yet and the scheme aims to reduce flood risk to areas that remain at risk in The Bourn by constructing three storage areas on the Bourn (a tributary of the Rea), Manor Farm and one at Calthorpe Park. Around 200 existing residential and 100 commercial properties across The  Bourn catchments would benefit from the scheme. 

6. Does the scheme consider climate change?

We always consider climate change when designing and implementing a scheme. We follow Environment Agency guidance and add allowances for climate change.

7. Does the scheme consider surface water issues and other types of flooding?

The scheme aims to reduce fluvial (river) flooding from the from the River Rea and its tributaries.  

8. I live in an area where I am not protected by the defences. Will my flood risk increase? 

We undertake flood modelling to ensure that the scheme does not increase flood risk elsewhere. Where we have identified a change in flood risk, we have already engaged with the property owner to explain the risk and offer additional measures to protect their property.

9. Will we be kept informed about the scheme?

We will keep people informed and engaged throughout the length of the scheme. We will do this through regular newsletters and our online information page, which can be accessed at the following link TheBournFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please email your contact details to TheBournFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk or call our National Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506 506 during office hours and we will add you to our mailing list.

PLEASE NOTE- By providing us with your contact details you consent to the Environment Agency using the details provided to contact you with updates about the Bourn and Lower Rea Flood Risk Management Scheme. We will keep your contact details until the project is closed or until you withdraw your consent, whichever is sooner.

You can withdraw your consent to receive these updates at any time by emailing us at TheBournFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk or calling 03708 506 506. We will not share your details with any other third party without your explicit consent unless we are required to by law.

The Environment Agency is the data controller for the personal data you provide. For further information on how we deal with your personal data please see our Personal Information Charter on GOV.UK (search 'Environment Agency personal information charter') or contact our Data Protection team.  Address: Data Protection team, Environment Agency, Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AH. Email: dataprotection@environment-agency.gov.uk   

11. Will there be disruption to me during the construction works?

As we have not finalised the design for the scheme, we cannot provide any information about disruption to individuals. However, any scheme is likely to provide some level of disruption, such as noise, road closures and construction traffic. We will keep the community informed whilst developing the scheme to ensure people are made aware of any disruptions in advance and are able to talk to us about their concerns. We always work with contractors who are ‘considerate neighbours.'  The construction phase of this scheme is likely to be started for a few years.

12. How are you going to access the construction area?

When the construction phase does begin we will minimise the disruption to local residents and always consider health and safety when looking at access routes, such as putting adequate traffic management systems in place. As part of our design process, we will look at access arrangements to all areas of the scheme and make sure that all individuals who are directly affected are consulted.

13. When working on sections of the scheme, will there be foot path closures, and will there be alternative routes available? 

As we have not finalised the design for the scheme, we cannot provide any information about closure to individuals. Once we have these full details, we will keep the community informed whilst developing the scheme to ensure people are made aware of any disruptions in advance and are able to talk to us about their concerns.

14. Can I approach your staff directly on site to discuss the proposed scheme?

To help keep everyone safe during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we ask that you avoid/minimise your contact with our site staff and contractors as much as possible.

If you have concerns or queries relating to the scheme, please do not approach our staff and contractors on site. We ask instead that you contact us via email onTheBournFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk or by telephone during office hours on 03708 506 506.

15. Have you considered dredging to alleviate flood risk?

As part of our Initial Assessment, we considered several options to alleviate flood risk to Bourn and Lower Rea dredging was discussed but is neither an effective nor affordable long-term solution to the issues of flooding in the town.

In extreme flooding events, the small increases in width and depth achieved by dredging a waterway do not provide enough capacity to contain the excess flood water.

Dredging may also be ineffective in reducing flooding, as the natural processes in many rivers can cause silt to build up again quickly. As a result, it is not affordable to continuously dredge the length of the watercourse.

The Environment Agency also has a duty to protect valuable river habitats, and dredging has been proven to cause considerable damage to river ecosystems.   

16. Do you undertake maintenance of the watercourses?

The responsibility of maintaining a watercourse sits with the riparian landowner. However, we will intervene if there is an increased flood risk to residential properties from a structure or channel, such as a blockage. We will inform the riparian landowner to rectify the defect or carry out the removal ourselves where there is a heightened risk of flooding. For further information on riparian rights and responsibilities, please refer to our 'owning a watercourse' guidance on GOV.UK at the following link https://www.gov.uk/guidance/owning-a-watercourse

You can contact our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 to report a flood or possible cause of flooding.

17. Will the Flood Risk Management Scheme damage the environment?

The Environment Agency has a biodiversity net gain approach to the development of the scheme. This is to ensure any biodiversity loss because of the scheme is mitigated within the river catchment.

Whilst we will make every effort to limit the loss of trees in the final design of the scheme, it is inevitable that we will need to remove some trees and vegetation to complete the work. Where removing trees cannot be avoided, we will plant replacements. For every tree lost because of our work, we will plant five more. We will also be working with residents and other groups to identify suitable planting in the local area, and if necessary, opportunities in the wider Birmingham area.

18. Is Natural Flood Risk Management (NFM) being considered as part of the solution to alleviate flooding?

Working with natural processes and using NFM measures where appropriate will help us manage and reduce flood risk in an efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable way.

19. Is there enough funding to complete the scheme?

Any flood scheme is subject to government funding rules based on achieving a positive cost benefit ratio, and all schemes will have to go through a series of stages to gain approval for funding. At each stage the scheme will be subject to scrutiny in order to ensure that the scheme offers value to the taxpayer.

We have secured funding to progress with the design of the scheme. As with any government funded scheme, we must continue to ensure that the cost does not outweigh the benefits and there is a constant review of this element of the project.

20. When will construction start and when will the scheme be finished?

Construction is due Mid-Late 2026 and is expected to last between 18 to 24 months. This is dependent on funding, approvals, and any unforeseen engineering challenges on site.

21. Loss of Local Parkland and Wildlife:

There are no plans for significant loss of local parkland and wildlife. The flood storage areas will serve the essential function of managing floodwaters during periods of heightened risk, such as large-scale events like the 2016 flood, to the local community and safeguarding infrastructure. The area will only hold flood water during large flooding events outside of flood events, the parks will continue to be used as they currently are by the surrounding communities. Our goal is to minimize environmental impact while effectively managing flood risks, aiming for a minimum of 10% biodiversity net gain. Although some tree removal is inevitable for project completion, we are committed to planting replacements at a ratio of one lost tree to five new ones. Additionally, initiatives like planting flower meadows can further enhance biodiversity. We are also committed to explore other environmental improvement opportunities such as those identified in the Rea Landscape Visioning work. These plans can now be found on our scheme web page Bourn and Lower Rea Flood Risk Management Scheme - Environment Agency - Citizen Space (environment-agency.gov.uk)

22.    Increased Flood Risk to Properties Bordering the Park:

 These parks provide strategic locations for implementing flood storage areas, crucial for protecting approximately 200 residential and 100 business properties in the Bournville and Stirchley area. In urban areas it is difficult to use traditional flood measures such as flood walls. The Environment Agency must complete a full flood risk assessment to ensure there is no increased risk of flooding to properties in the location of the scheme or above or below the scheme.  Area of Choice for Future Flooding Events: The flood management for the whole of the catchment area   has been separated into two projects. This scheme has been designed for the protection of the Bournville and Stirchley area.

23. Potential Reduction in House Values and Saleability:

We understand concerns about property values, but studies have shown that well-implemented flood risk management schemes can enhance property values by reducing risk. Our aim will be to enhance the park landscapes and increase their biodiversity value whilst reducing flood risk to homes, communities and infrastructure including the local road and rail network.

24. Views of High Reservoir Mounds:

While there may be changes to the landscape, we are committed to minimising visual impacts and preserving the character of our community to the greatest extent possible. The concept drawings referred to show the maximum size of embankment and amount of water that can be stored. The aim is to scale these works down, so we are getting the most benefit compared to the cost of the measures.

25. Insurance Costs and Insurability:

Proper flood risk management can lead to more favourable insurance terms and ensure that properties remain insurable. On previously developed flood schemes we have no evidence to indicate that insurance costs have increased or that there has been a loss of the ability to insure. We will work closely with residents and insurance providers to address any concerns.

26. Lack of Communication with Directly Affected Residents:

 We understand why some residents may be frustrated with our communications and are committed to improving transparency and engagement moving forward. It is important to recognise that we are at an early stage in the process and have only just started engaging with the local community now that we are developing the designs. We welcome feedback and want to work closely with the community and key stakeholders and are keen to engage with affected residents and partners throughout the project.

27. Loss of Privacy to Rear Gardens:

We will take measures to minimise impacts to residents' privacy during project implementation and design. We will always discuss any options with people that this will affect and thoroughly consider the needs and concerns of the surrounding community and residents throughout the design.

28 Exploratory Work and Disruption:

We understand that exploratory work may cause inconvenience, but it is necessary for gathering essential data. We will strive to minimise disruption as much as possible and will work with the community around key events that are planned in the parks. The initial work will involve visual surveys of the parks followed by ground investigation work. The ground investigation work is planned from March and is expected to take around 2-3 weeks per park site. The work will take place Monday to Friday and will involve borehole drilling, which is a process used to create holes or wells in the ground. These boreholes are for groundwater extraction, geotechnical investigations, mineral exploration, or environmental monitoring. Samples of the subsurface materials may be collected at various depths for analysis. We will provide information to the community in advance and who they need to contact if they have any questions or concerns when this activity is happening.

29. You refer to a 10% biodiversity net gain – please could you explain specifically how this is intended to be achieved given that your proposals will render significant areas of existing parkland no longer accessible to the public? 

Environmental and Biodivesity Net Gain improvements will be explored further throughout the outline and detailed design and is a requirement of any planning application. We aim to work closely with partners and the community to maximise the environmental improvements to the park areas and minimise disruption during any works. The proposed scheme presents a unique opportunity to allocate resources toward enhancing parkland environments in the area. This initiative could involve implementing nature-based solutions across various locations, such as Ley Hill recreational park in the Upper Bourn catchment, particularly focusing on Griffins Brook. By integrating natural flood management measures, we aim to mitigate the impact of dominant surface water flows. For instance, potential strategies include re-naturalizing Griffins Brook through Manor Farm Park, addressing artificially elevated banks to promote better connectivity with the floodplain during lower flood events. These efforts would contribute to expanding habitat areas and improving the functionality of natural processes, requiring minimal ongoing maintenance. Enhancing connectivity between watercourses and floodplains can facilitate more natural sediment management and create opportunities for biodiversity. Establishing floodplain meadows can enhance soil composition, optimise water routing, and promote species diversity. Additionally, there's a possibility of augmenting tree planting in suitable areas to enhance interception, carbon sequestration, and mitigate the urban heat island effect. Moreover, the project presents an opportunity to enhance cycling and pedestrian pathways while addressing barriers in the watercourse. Removal of weirs can have positive impacts on aquatic ecology, facilitating riverbed and bank recovery and fostering a more diverse habitat, leading to documented increases in fish and invertebrate species diversity both upstream and downstream post-removal. These interventions could collectively contribute to achieving the goal of a 10% biodiversity net gain while optimising public access and recreational opportunities within the parkland areas.

30.  What are the design elements that make up a typical flood storage area?

The aim is to hold water back in the catchment and then release it back into the watercourse in a controlled way so that properties and infrastructure downstream does not suffer river flooding in the design flood events. Typically the works are likely to include;

- a large embankment across the watercourse to hold water back in times of flood (the crest being the top of the embankment),

- a control structure (fixed opening) to allow a certain amount of water through the embankment,

- a spillway (slightly lower than crest level) to allow extreme flood events to pass over the top of the embankment in a controlled way. Usually made from grasscrete or similar to provide a strong firm concrete base for grass to establish within.

- a stilling basin channel or trailing embankment is used to then channel any overflows from the spillway back into the watercourse.

 

This document will be added to and updated as the scheme progresses, so please continue to refer to this document in the first instance if you have any questions.

Similar Schemes in the Area 

Selly Park North: This is a completed flood scheme near Harborne Lane. It is an offline flood storage area with a path which acts as a national cycle route and also acts as the exit spillway. The area to the right of the photo stores flood waters and when not in operation it is a wetland area.

Selly Park South: This is a completed scheme near Moor Green Lane. It is an offline flood storage area. The photo below is a Google Earth image of the embankment around the park and the storage area in the middle.

First Avenue: This is a flood risk scheme at Pebble Mill playing fields which is currently undergoing construction. The sub and topsoil have been scraped back and piled up, and the new clay embankment is starting to go in as seen in the bottom left of the photo.

Signing Up to Our Newsletter

Keeping you up to date on our progress with this scheme is especially important to us. We will continue to provide updates through this information page and via our newsletter. If you would like to receive our newsletter, please email your contact details to TheBournFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk  or call our National Customer Contact Centre during office hours on 03708 506 506 and we will add you to our mailing list.

PLEASE NOTE- By providing us with your contact details you consent to the Environment Agency using the details provided to contact you with updates about the Bourn and Lower Rea Flood Risk Management Scheme. We will keep your contact details until the project is closed, or until you withdraw your consent, whichever is sooner. You can withdraw your consent to receive these updates at any time by emailing us at TheBournFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk  or calling 03708 506 506 during office hours. We will not share your details with any other third party without your explicit consent unless we are required to by law.

The Environment Agency is the data controller for the personal data you provide. For further information on how we deal with your personal data please see our Personal Information Charter on GOV.UK (search 'Environment Agency personal information charter') or contact our Data Protection team.  Address: Data Protection team, Environment Agency, Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AH. Email: dataprotection@environment-agency.gov.uk   

You can follow us on Twitter too at @EnvAgencyMids as we will be tweeting about the work we are doing on this scheme.

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February 2024 Newsletter

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Remaining Flood Aware 

Please make sure you remain flood aware and ensure you are signed up to our flood warning service. Visit www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings or call 0345 988 1188 to sign up to get Flood Alerts and Warnings by phone, email and/or text message. This is a free service. Alternatively contact our Flood Resilience Engagement Advisors at Floodresilience@environment-agency.gov.uk.

Know what to do when you receive a flood warning - use the 3 point plan.

An image of the flood warning 3 point plan

Thank you for visiting our information page. Please keep visiting this page as we will be updating it regularly. This page will be open to the public until the end of construction.

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People can contact TheBournFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk or call 02084 747 856.

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  • Flood management